7 frequently-used arguments of Sabarimala ‘saviours’, and how to demolish them

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  1. There are a myriad of traditions and customs that are part of the various religions people practice in India. For eg, Muslim women are not allowed entry in many mosques, certain sects of Christian priests and nuns are not allowed to marry, Jains are not allowed to eat non-vegetarian food, so on and so forth. Why does the Supreme Court turn a blind eye to all of these and intervenes and meddles only with Hindu traditions? 

is less about traditions, and more about a citizen’s individual right to worship – a right which was being curbed by law. Muslim women are denied entry in some mosques wherein it is beyond the scope of any kind of interference from the top court. This is because they have restrained women from a purely religious perspective, but not by law. Hence the Supreme Court cannot interfere, just like it has no say in the customs of other religions. However, this is not the case with Sabarimala. In Sabarimala, women have been prohibited entry by Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (authorisation of entry) Rules, 1965; women are denied entry by law. And denying any individual, man, woman or transgender from entering any place of worship is diametrically opposite to the fundamental rights of a citizen in a democratic country like India. Hence the apex court has decided to lift the ban created ‘by law’ and has left the rest to the religious laws and practices that people believe in. The constitution does not believe in prohibiting anyone from their basic rights as a citizen of this democratic country. Period.

  1. Why tamper with age-old traditions? Can’t we let religious beliefs and associated customs be allowed to maintain their status-quo?

Breast Tax, Child Marriage, Temple entry ban for Dalits, Sati and many other such customs and traditions were age-old at the time of their abolishment. It is imperative to see the reasoning behind each custom, and whether it is not just logical but also relevant in the current era and decide if it needs to be continued or not. Blindly following any tradition just because it has been handed down through generations from cave-men times, is just against evolution of any kind – be it cultural, societal or mental.

 (Having said that, I also want to mention the history behind Sabarimala. First of all, it is already known that Sabarimala used to allow women in the past. There are records of Queen of Travancore attending choroonu ceremonies in 1939, and that an informal ban came into existence in late 20th century and it was enforced strictly only from 1991 following the case of S.Mahendran vs. Travancore Devaswom Board.  There are also historical evidences that point to the fact that Sabarimala was once a Buddhist temple which was demolished and built as an abode for Ayyappa much later. So to preserve age-old traditions, how about reverting it back to a Buddhist temple?!)

  1. Matters of faith need not be interspersed with constitutional rights. The court does not have to interfere in religious belief systems. 

Wrong. In this country nothing and nobody is (rather, ‘should be’) above the constitution, and the same holds good for religions and their gods as well. And as per Religious Freedom Clause Article 25, the constitution guarantees the right to freely profess, practise and propagate religion, to ALL persons. The keyword being ALL and that includes women too, obviously. The article also allows the state to make laws “regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice.” If it makes opponents of this verdict happy, they could look at the case of Haji Ali Dargah, a mosque in Mumbai where women weren’t allowed entry by law and the Supreme Court struck it down by a similar verdict. The key thing to understand is the constitutional rights of an individual is much higher than any religious right or belief. The verdicts pertaining to ‘Triple Talaq, Decriminalising extra-marital relationships, legalizing same-sex marriages corroborate the same. 

  1. If it is about gender equality there are many other issues that the court needs to pay attention to, how can allowing women into a temple engender women empowerment in any way?

First and foremost, entry ban in Sabarimala for women is because they menstruate. Hence women aged 10-55 are not allowed and others are. Menstruating women are not considered pure enough to enter the sacred walls where Lord Ayyappa who is a bachelor resides. At least that’s what the myth says. Discrimination in the name of menstruation – the sole reason why life even exists on earth – is not discrimination just against women, it is against life itself. If even in a place of worship women are discriminated, and we allow that, how will they be treated elsewhere? Fight against such discriminations should start from the basics, from the most sacred of places. 

  1. People must understand and respect the myth behind disallowing women in Sabarimala and not meddle with matters of gods.

Though the myth professes about ‘impure’ menstruating women desanctifying the chastity of the bachelor Lord Ayyappa, the real reason is the fact that centuries before the whole area surrounding Sabarimala was dense forest. It was impractical and difficult for a woman to traverse the wilderness and reach the deity at the top of the mountain, during her menstruating days. It was more a matter of practicality than of impurity. It is disheartening to know that people of this generation fail to see this simple logic and choose to go with blind superstitions. And now that there are much better roads and transportation available, it only makes sense that women enter Sabarimala without much ado. 

  1. There are many other temples which allow women. Why be adamant about entering Sabarimala itself which is the only temple that disallows entry of women? 

‘Entry in all other temples are okay, but not in one’ is precisely the reason why this is important. If universally no temples allowed women, Sabarimala wouldn’t have raised as many eye-brows any way. This is precisely why in the verdict, the CJI observed that Ayyappa devotees do not constitute a separate religious denomination and that exclusionary practice (denial of entry to women in Sabarimala) is neither an essential nor an integral part of the Hindu religion without which the Hindu religion, will not survive.

  1. Why is it that Hindu women themselves are against this more than anyone else?

When many of the above said social, cultural and religious attrocities were banned, they also created havoc. This is because in most such cases the oppressed themselves are oblivious of the shackles they are bound by. And it’s up to the rest of the sensible clan around them to step up and talk some sense into their ears. Even if it’s not welcomed now, the coming generations would be grateful for the precedent that has been set for their good. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is, the Supreme Court only struck down the ban caused by Rule 3(b), meaning it doesn’t believe in legally stopping anyone from entering Sabarimala. It is not like the Supreme Court is forcing anyone to go to Sabarimala if it’s against their beliefs.  Anyone is equally free to go or refrain from it. Just like beef logic, if you do not want, you don’t have to eat it. But that doesn’t mean you have to be offended if someone else eats beef. Live and let live. 

 

 

ഒരു മതേതര സംസ്ഥാനത്തിനെ എങ്ങനെ വർഗീയവത്കരിക്കാം – 10 ഘട്ടങ്ങൾ

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1 .സംഘ പരിവാറിനോട് അടുത്ത് ബന്ധമുള്ള അഭിഭാഷകരെ കൊണ്ട് സ്ത്രീകളുടെ ക്ഷേത്രപ്രവേശനത്തിനു സുപ്രീം കോടതിയിൽ ഹർജി നൽകുന്നു.  [കേന്ദ്ര ഗവണ്മെന്റ് സ്വാധീനത്താൽ (?)] സുപ്രീം കോടതി  അനുകൂല വിധി പുറപ്പെടുവിക്കുന്നു. ഇത് ഭരണഘടന അവകാശം ആയതു കൊണ്ട് തന്നെ ഇതിൽ തെറ്റൊന്നും പറയാനില്ല. ചീഫ്ജസ്റ്റിസ് തൊട്ടു പിന്നാലെ വിരമിക്കുന്നു.

2 . തൃപ്തി ദേശായി തന്റെ പെൺപട ഉടൻ മല കയറും എന്ന് വിളംബരം നടത്തുന്നു.

3 . കേട്ടപാതി കേൾക്കാത്ത പാതി അങ്ങോളം ഇങ്ങോളം കേരളത്തിലെ വിശ്വാസികൾ നെട്ടോട്ടം ഓടുന്നു. #Readytowait ഉം “Save ശബരിമലഉം കൊണ്ട് അടുത്ത വെള്ളപ്പൊക്കം facebook ഇൽ.

4 . രാഹുൽ ഈശ്വറും ടീമും ചാനൽ ഇളക്കി മറിക്കൽ തകൃതിയായി നടത്തുന്നു.

5 . അയ്യപ്പനെ ഋതുമതികളായ സ്ത്രീകളുടെ കരാള ഹസ്തങ്ങളിൽ നിന്ന് രക്ഷിക്കാൻ ബിജെപി നിരത്തിൽ ഇറങ്ങുന്നു.

6 . കേരളത്തിലെ വിശ്വാസികളായ ബഹുഭൂരിപക്ഷം ഹിന്ദു ജനതയും തങ്ങളുടെ രക്ഷകർ ആയി ബിജെപിയെ വാഴ്ത്തി സ്തുതിഗീതങ്ങൾ പാടുന്നു.

7 . നിഷ്പക്ഷ വോട്ടുകൾ, ചില ഹിന്ദു വലതുപക്ഷ വോട്ടുകൾ, കുറെയധികം ഹിന്ദു ഇടതുപക്ഷ വോട്ടുകൾ എന്നിവ ബിജെപി വോട്ടുകൾ ആയി റെക്കോർഡ് വേഗതയിൽ മാറുന്നു. [മോഡി മാജിക് പോലെ (?)]

8 . തങ്ങൾ 21-ആം നൂറ്റാണ്ടിൽ ആണെന്ന് പാടെ മറന്ന ചില കൊട്ടാരങ്ങളും രാജാക്കന്മാരും കാരണം വിധി പുനർപരിഗണിക്കാനായി അപേക്ഷ നൽകപ്പെടുന്നു.

9 . നാടകീയ രംഗങ്ങൾക്ക് ശേഷം,  പുതിയ ചീഫ് ജസ്റ്റിസ് [കേന്ദ്ര ഗവണ്മെന്റ് സ്വാധീനത്താൽ(?)] വിധി തിരുത്തുന്നു.

10 . തങ്ങളുടെ ഏക ആശ്രയം ആയിരുന്ന ബിജെപിയിലേക്ക് കേരളത്തിലെ ഹിന്ദു വോട്ടുകൾ മലക്കം മറിയുന്നു.

ഇതോടെ ഒരു മതേതര സംസ്ഥാനത്തിന്റെ വർഗീയവത്കരണം പൂർത്തിയായി. കേവല മനുഷ്യനെ പോലും രക്ഷാകവചമാക്കി നിരത്തിലിറക്കേണ്ടി വന്ന “സർവ്വരക്ഷകനായ” ദൈവത്തിനു പെരുത്തു നന്ദി.

 

 

How to convert a perfectly secular state to a religiously polarised one, in 10 steps

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Step 1 : Advocates who are in bed with Sangh Parivar, file a petition to lift the restriction of temple entry to women in Sabarimala. The Central government influences their court stooge of a Chief Justice (& Co) to give a positive verdict. The ban is struck down (which also aligns with the fundamental rights of a citizen, and hence doesn’t raise any eyebrows constitutionally as well). Supreme Court Chief Justice retires immediately after.
Step 2 : BJP makes Trupti Desai & Co declare their imminent arrival to Sabarimala.
Step 3: Believers across the state tremble in fear for the bachelorhood of Lord Ayyappa. #Readytowait floods the social media. ‘Save Sabarimala’ banners decorate FB profile pictures.
Step 4 : Rahul Easwar & Co starts their TV battle to “save Ayyappa” from the untouchables – ‘menstruating women’.
Step 5 : BJP starts protesting on the streets against the verdict, “to save their god” (as absurdly funny as it sounds!).
Step 6 : The large Hindu population in Kerala look up to BJP as their saviour, who “stood up for their god”. (Oh the irony!)
Step 7 : Neutral votes, some Hindu Congress votes and majority of Hindu Communist votes start getting magically converted to BJP votes.
Step 8 : Thanks to the palaces and kings who still have a say in the sociocultural matters of 21st century, a petition is filed for a review of the Court verdict.
Step 9 : Post some dramatic scenes the new Chief Justice & Co overturns the verdict [under the influence of central government (?)].
Step 10 : More neutral and Hindu votes turn into BJP votes, BJP being their “god’s” only saviours, their knight in saffron shining armour.
Religious polarisation of a perfectly secular state, complete. Thanks to gods that need human saviours!

Belonging  

6 July 2018

The seed belongs to the flower,
The flower to the stem,
The stem to the plant,
The plant to the roots,
The roots to the earth,
The earth to the nature.

Everything belongs,
Everyone belongs,
To something or someone.
And yet there are lives,
That are tethered,
Yet not belonged.

Is there a sense of void,
More profound than that?
Why is it that being with yourself,
Just does not seem to suffice?
Why is it that being happy with oneself,
Still isn’t happy enough?

Every tiny flicker of life, blossoms into this world
Belonging to someone.
Then to live here with a sense of unbelonging,
And to fear to leave here,
In a state of barrenness,
Maybe an angst unfathomable.

For all we want, is to belong,
It’s almost an instinct that’s primal.
All we want is to exist forever,
Even once we are gone,
Atleast as a memory of another’s prized treasure,
Or as a slice, of someone’s precious heart.

 

Roots and some epiphanies

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4 May 2018
For the first time in my life, I actually miss India while being away. Usually this never happens, because of my insatiable wanderlust. To add on to it, I have been having revelations of sorts. Out of which the most striking one is the fact that I’m suddenly immensely glad I was born Indian, and for the first time I’m feeling overwhelmingly happy because if it. I’m appreciating from where I come from, for the fact that my roots have a tenderness that the west lacks, for the fact that we have an unruliness the west does not possess, an unruliness which is almost poetic, because it comes off as more natural than the mechanical orderliness of the west.
I’m suddenly grateful of the fact that I understand and enjoy eastern things..and feel an innate sense of belonging to them. They may not be the finer things in life, but they sure have a quality, or rather a tenderness that is etched into the nature and the cosmos – a sort of beauty in chaos. Eastern music has it, our dance and art forms have it, our literature and our spiritual places have it. And the bliss I feel even at the thought of it all is divine. It is not something that the western materialistic world possesses and for the same reason we are not able to perceive them while in the thick of western lifestyle or culture. I don’t know how much I’m making sense, but I do think at least some of my fellow Indians have thoughts aligned to mine, and can at least obscurely understand what I’m getting at. I guess it’s always most difficult to express something that we feel at the core of our heart, rather than something on our mind, especially when our heart is brimming with the said feeling that it just doesn’t overflow as words.

I am wondering if being pregnant is what is making me have these thoughts that I’ve never felt before. Maybe bearing this pixie stardust from the core of this universe inside of me and being one with this incredible, magical spark of life, is what is making me have ‘enlightenments’ I’ve never had till date. After all, at this moment this tiny one is divine in every sense.

Women’s Day Wishes to all Superwomen!

It’s Women’s Day and especially in the wake of the highly controversial breastfeeding campaign that swayed Kerala this way and that, with a rollercoaster of opinions, just pondering over few things.

1. Why do some people think showing ‘some parts’ of the body is ‘vulgar’ and some are not? Showing off mid-riff while wearing a saree is okay, skin seen till just above the knee is okay, showing your bare-skinned back through a low cut back-open blouse is okay, hands seen bare till the shoulder is okay, but showing part of your shoulder and upper chest is not?

2.Why are even modern women with supposed modern outlooks still conditioned to such pre-conceived notions?

3.Isnt it high-time we understood it’s personal freedom of a woman to decide and feel comfortable with the length of her dress or the amount of skin she shows? And that noone, not even other women have the right to judge it.

4. Breastfeeding may look the same as wearing a low-cut blouse, or an off-shoulder top, but it isn’t. Someone is having food, not having sex. So it should be less frowned upon, but unfortunately it is the opposite.

In this 21st century where women are oppressed in all walks of life, we should at least be granted the freedom to choose how we dress or feed our baby.

So, all my women friends, please wear whatever ‘you’ want, a low cut blouse, an off shoulder top, a micro mini skirt, a bikini, a hijab, whatever. Feed your baby however you want, in the privacy of a room, in a public place, wearing a towel, without it, or however you deem comfortable. Wear, flaunt, fly, for you are all Supergirls! Noone has the right to judge you. Those who do, are hypocrites of the highest order. “Attire Nazis” I would say!

Happy women’s day, all you beautiful women out there ! Much Love 🙂

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US, UAE and some lessons in love (23/09/2017)

20 days, 10 flights, 5 cities, 2 countries, numerous people, and uncountable experiences later, I sit here pondering on what exactly was my single take-home from this trip. Despite all the fun I had, the many places I visited, the memories I made, I think the one thing that struck me most, and stuck with me were the amazing people I got to be around. Though I was on a solotrip, I spent most of my time in close proximity with different couples in each city. And I somehow got to learn a lesson or two on relationships. Which expectations are unrealistic, and which are not, and whether I was wrong every time I self-doubted my worthiness to receive anything in a relationship. I realised for a happy and healthy relationship, taking each other for granted should stay an anathema.

I don’t know if it is the fact that these people are away from their extended family, or the fact that they are in a place where they don’t get house help like in India  that seem to have worked in favor of their relationships. I saw men who considered his woman as the other half of him, and not a bigger half who has the bigger share of house chores, or a lesser half who is a slave who does all the house work that he is also meant to take care. Moreover, I saw that a completely contented woman always had a husband who was mindful of her smallest discomforts. Even when she pulls open the car dashboard he would ask her to mind her knees. When she walks across the street, he looks out for oncoming vehicles even from inside the car. When she sleeps in late, he makes sure he cooks her breakfast by the time she is up. And so on and so forth it goes.

I realized that a truly contented relationship may not always have a wife who is mindful the same way even with her boundless love for him. But that’s forgivable, I understood. Because like it or not, it’s a fact that almost always it’s a woman’s heart which craves the need to be tended to, to be protected, to be kept in a treasure chest padded with soft pillows, and man, the one who revels in keeping it in a safe haven, just the way she wants.

I saw people who made love and consideration for each other their priorities, and there I saw truly contented hearts and eyes. I saw love that is worn like a beautiful trinket, which shimmers its way even through the darkest of nights. Love that clothes them, salvages them from the fiercest of winters. Love that was like tattoo, had become part of their skin, which cannot be stripped off of them, no matter what. Love that was etched on to their flesh and to the core of their beings. Love without which they cease to exist, their souls be no more.

And only that kind of love, is love. ‘Cause, there just isn’t any place for mediocrity in love.

(Wrote this 5 months back, but thought of posting it on the day of love.)

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY !

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