Tourism minister Mahesh Sharma on Monday favoured the entry of women in Kerala’s Sabarimala temple, saying there should be no discrimination on the basis of caste and gender.
“The government is of the opinion that there should be no discrimination in all religious places on (the basis of) caste and gender,” the Minister of State for culture and tourism (independent charge) said while launching a tourist helpline when asked for his opinion on the matter.
His remarks come in the backdrop of Kerala government defending in the Supreme Court the ban on the entry of women in the age group of 10 to 50 years in the historic temple.
However, Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar termed the Supreme Court’s move as “interference” in the long held traditions of the temple. “I find the petition in the Supreme Court an interference in the long held traditions of the sacred temple and troubling. Culture, spirituality around one of Kerala’s most revered shrines must be preserved and respected. As in many cases, age old traditions and rituals defy modern explanations and tests. Neverthless, they have to be respected for what they are - traditions and values that many Hindus and Indians value dearly,” he said in a statement on Monday.
Sharma made the comment at the launch of a round-the-clock tourist helpline.
The 10-year-old petition filed by Young Lawyers Association of India has faulted the Travancore Devaswom Board’s policy to not allow women inside the temple after they attain puberty.