BBC News – Sabarimala: Why has a Hindu temple divided India’s women?

It’s been more than a month since India’s Supreme Court revoked a ban on women aged between 10 and 51 entering a prominent Hindu temple in southern India. Yet no women have been able to enter so far.

Sabarimala – Kerala – India, 17 November 2o18. The Sabarimala temple in Kerala state officially opened its gates on Friday evening, the start of the annual pilgrimage season. The temple had also opened for a few hours twice after the court verdict.

But ever since the ban was repealed, tens of thousands of protesters, including many women, have blocked roads, attacked female devotees and vandalised property in a bid to stop women from entering the shrine.

They say that they are protecting their deity in accordance with an age-old belief that women of a menstruating age are a threat to his celibacy.

A debate around this has been raging in the rest of the country as well.

We asked two writers, with different viewpoints, to explain their stand. These are selected excerpts:
The ‘feminist’ ruling angering the women it meant to empower

Shyam Krishnakumar, commentator

Equality cannot become a premise to create an artificial homogeneity, forcing a conformity that destroys diverse, inter-generational practices, which enjoy the support of all stakeholders, including women.

No efforts are taken to sincerely engage with the practices of the actual stakeholders. What masquerades under the garb of “reform” is a way to impose modernity on native practices by judicial writ and state force if necessary.

The judgement has also raised disturbing questions about the relationship between religion and state in India.

The government has become increasingly involved in managing religious institutions and the judiciary in determining “correct” religious practice.

The stand-off at Sabarimala exposes the stark dichotomy between a cosmopolitan elite who celebrate the “liberation” of women and the visceral grassroots reaction from millions of women devotees who feel their voices are not being heard in today’s India.

Kerala is not a place where women are voiceless. It has historically been a matrilineal society where women have controlled and inherited property for centuries. The state has the highest literacy rate in India and its social indicators are comparable to developed countries.

The protesting women feel that no one cared to understand their worldview. They feel that those with privilege and a voice are imposing a “liberation” that these women do not seek. – Manjinder Singh Sirsa thrown out of Delhi Assembly

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 04 January 2019. The Delhi legislator Manjinder Singh Sirsa was reportedly thrown out of the Delhi state assembly on January 3 for demanding removal of assembly speaker for dropping the line from the Resolution which read that “this House also resolved that Centre should withdraw Bharat Ratna from the then acting Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi”.

His turban reportedly went off during this manhandling but he again placed it on his head and kept on saving it.

A video of Manjinder Singh Sirsa’s manhandling in the Delhi state assembly by the marshals has gone viral over social media in which Sirsa could be seen as being lifted and thrown out of the assembly by the marshals on the order of AAP legislators.

It has come to fore that the ruckus began when Sirsa demanded a response to his request for the removal of the Speaker.

Notably, Sirsa had demanded removal of the Speaker in a notice submitted to the Secretary of the Delhi Legislative Assembly on December 24 for dropping the line from the Resolution which read that “this House also resolved that Centre should withdraw Bharat Ratna from the then acting Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi”.

Following the request, Speaker Mr. Ram Niwas Goel said he cannot accept it as such a notice has to be given 14 days in advance and he only received the notice on December 24.

BJP lawmakers, Vijender Gupta, Sirsa and Jagdish Pradhan, then questioned the House on the removal of the demand from the resolution.

When the Speaker turned down their request, Sirsa went near the Speaker’s podium, prompting Mr. Goel to order the three BJP legislators to be marshaled out and also their suspension. Thereafter, Mr. Goel adjourned the House for 15 minutes.

Interacting with media outside the Delhi state assembly, Manjinder Singh Sirsa said that the content of the resolution was changed as the AAP wants to forge alliance with the Congress in the upcoming parliamentary elections. He added that the AAP lawmakers encouraged the marshals to manhandle the elected members.

On the other hand, the AAP legislator Saurabh Bhardwaj said that the marshals were requesting Sirsa to go out after the House was adjourned.

“Sirsa abused the marshals and manhandled them. He also stuck his leg in the chair purposely. He started shouting that his turban was being removed forcefully, while no one was touching his head or turban” he claimed.

Den Haag Holland Spoor to Capelle Schollevaar

Den Haag Holland Spoor
23 December 2018

All station train to Dordrecht

Intercity to Eindhoven via Rotterdam CS

Intercity to Eindhoven – Benelux carriages

Rotterdam Centraal
23 December 2018

All station train to Uitgeest

Rotterdam CS

Sprinter EMU to Capelle Schollevaar

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

BirminghamLive – Sikh helpers fear being driven out of town by ’embarrassed’ council

Volunteers serve up to 100 meals a day to poverty-stricken and homeless people in Walsall

Gurdip Thandi

Walsall – West Midlands – UK, 03 January 2018. A Sikh organisation, which has grown from feeding a handful of needy people in Walsall into a global service, fears it is being driven out of its home town.

The Midland Langar Seva Society serves hundreds of hot meals to homeless and poor people every day across the UK as well as India, Germany and Bangkok.

But Randhir Singh, one of the founders of the society, said they have been stunned by complaints from Walsall Council about the mess their evening town centre feeds leave behind.

Mr Singh said they deployed volunteers to clear up rubbish each night and had no problems with any other authority where their groups serve.

Driven by the Sikh principles of helping others and stopping people from going hungry, Midland Langar Seva Society was set up in 2013 operating from the Glebe Centre in Walsall.

Initially, take-up was low in the town but other groups set up elsewhere in the Midlands including Wolverhampton and Birmingham proved popular.

More groups were established up north and in Wales before the operation grew further and saw services developed across India and in Thailand and Germany.

When the group returned to Walsall three years ago, demand was far higher than before and volunteers now serve between 85 and a 100 meals per day.

Mr Singh said: “It is really sad that Walsall Council appear to be trying to stop the feeds we put on.

“They say we are leaving a lot of mess and they are getting complaints from market traders but we are only there for an hour and we have volunteers designated to clearing up any rubbish.

“We believe it is just an excuse. Perhaps they are embarrassed at how bad poverty and homelessness is in Walsall and that we are doing their job for them.

“We do this to follow the Sikh principle of ‘seva’ – serving humanity and helping those who are less fortunate than us. It is what our founder Guru Nanak Ji did.

“It is not just homeless people who come to us, it is people with a range of problems including mental health issues, poverty, families who are struggling to put food on the table.

“You also get professional people whose lives fell apart or those who were in the army.

“We try to help people get back on their feet. It is heartbreaking to see people cannot afford to buy food.”

As well as serving vegetarian meals, the society has distributed clothes, nappies, baby milk and toiletries.

Volunteers also deliver to places including women’s refuges and provide breakfast clubs at a number of schools across the West Midlands.

Mr Singh added: “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and yet there are children as young as five who go to school on an empty stomach.

The Hindu – Sabarimala issue: Shastras do not bar women from entering temples, says Pejawar Mutt seer

Special Correspondent

Sabarimala – Kerala – India, 03 January 2019. The entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple on Wednesday has sparked off a debate in Karnataka as well.

Vishwesha Tirtha Swami of Pejawar Mutt said on Wednesday that his stand on the issue of women’s entry into Sabarimala temple was neutral and the ‘shastras’ per se do not ban it.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, the Pejawar seer said, “In Sabarimala, there is no entry for women in the temple. But women are given entry in other temples. However, there is nothing in the ‘shastras’ that bars or restricts the entry of women into temples. So I do not know what I should say about this Sabarimala issue.

Hence, I am neutral over this issue.” He said that women had been entering temples for so many centuries, and “earlier Dalits were not being allowed into temples in the name of tradition. But, this tradition has long been broken with the entry of Dalits into temples”.

Another seer, Vidyadheesha Tirtha Swami of Paryaya Palimar Mutt, said that religion has its own “protocols”, which should be respected with regard to the entry of women to the Lord Ayyapa temple at Sabarimala.

Welcomes move

Meanwhile, Dr. Channasiddharama Panditaradhya swami of Shreeshaila mutt said at Belagavi on Wednesday that men and women were both equal and there should not be any discrimination.

“Women have the right to worship, just like men. Gender differences should not come in the way of his or her right to worship,” he said.

“Some temples have some old traditions of banning women from their premises, under some conditions. However, all this needs to change in keeping with the changing times.

Temples should also change their rules as per changing times and the desires of the people,” he said. “I believe that allowing women entry into temples is a good development.”