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Why the Sabarimala verdict allowing women’s entry is not against mass opinion

The Supreme Court has set aside the custom of preventing women in menstruating age from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2018 11:22 IST
Roshan Kishore
Roshan Kishore
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sabarimala temple,Sabarimala verdict,Supreme Court
Devotees wait at Lord Ayyappa temple, in Sabarimala. The Supreme Court said women have the constitutional right to enter Sabarimala temple in Kerala.(PTI File Photo)

The Supreme Court has set aside a long practiced custom of preventing women in menstruating age from entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Describing the practice as exclusionary, the court ruled it “neither essential, nor an integral part of religion”. Statistics from the 2012 (the latest available data) of World Value Surveys (WVS) for India suggest that the judgment might be in keeping with public opinion in India, although there is a school of thought that believes people have become more rigid in their religious beliefs over the past few years. WVS data shows that a majority of Indians places a high importance on religion in their lives (Chart 1), and also reports a high degree of confidence in religious organisations (Chart 2). These trends hold across gender and age. This high religiosity however does not make majority of Indians supporters of a theocratic state, where religious authorities interpreting laws is seen as being essential for democracy. Almost one-third of Indians said that religious authorities interpreting laws was not an essential feature of democracy at all, while the share of those who believed the opposite was less than 10% (Chart 3). These statistics are yet another proof that the struggle against retrograde and discriminatory practices being continued in the name of religion has the support of a huge silent majority.

First Published: Sep 29, 2018 10:04 IST