India is a country with a rich culture and has been giving birth to some of the most intellectual minds from the very beginning. Unfortunately, the people here are unwilling to change with the changing times. The ideas and beliefs that once made sense are now obsolete and silly to carry on. On top of that, the burden of baseless myths portrays our country to be primitive and backward.
While women have to face discrimination in many spheres of life all over the world, one of the most dominant faces of discrimination in India can be seen in religious and holy places. Throughout India, there are beliefs and myths to support the practice of banning entry of women in many temples, mosques and other religious places.
#1 Lord Ayyappa Temple, Sabarimala
The temple confines the entrance of women between 12 and 50 years that is women who are in their reproductive age, inside the temple. Based on legends, Lord Ayyappa was a Bramhachari (celibate) in his teens, when he was once requested by a young girl Nila to marry her. Nonetheless, the lord Ayyappa abandoned the suggestion and cited his promise of being a life-long celibate.
#2 Lord Kartikeya Temple, Pehowa, Haryana
This temple also observes Brahmachari form of Lord Kartikeya and thus, bans women from entering the holy place. Located close to the Punjab-Haryana boundary, the structure is very old and dates back to 5th century BC. Based on legend and myth, any women entering the shrine may be damned even if their motive of the visit is to seek the blessings of the lord.
#3 Mawali Mata Mandir, Chhattisgarh
Based on the information of the priests Shyamlal Sahu and Shiv Thakur of the Mawali Mata Mandir, they had one time heard from a cleric that he saw the divinity rise from the earth. The deity then told the priest that she was still a spinster. “This is the reason behind women not being allowed inside the temple to pay their visits to the Goddess,” they said.
#4 Shani Temple, Shani Shingnapur
Shani Shingnapur is a village about 35 kms away from Ahmednagar city in the state of Maharashtra. The village is well-known for the fact that no house or shop in the village has locks. In 2011, United Commercial Bank opened its first lockless branch. The village is also known for its Shani temple that is visited by 45,000 visitors per day. The number of visitor reaches 300,000 on Amavasya day. The temple currently bans the entry of women. There was a protest held early this year but the women were not permitted to enter the temple by police.
#5 Sree Krishna Temple, Malayinkeezhu, Kerala
The custom of disallowing women in their reproductive age to enter exists from centuries and was established ever since two Pushpanjali Swamiyars of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple had to stay for six months at the Malayinkeezhu temple. Since the Swamiyars were celibates, treating women as outlaws became a custom. Nevertheless, there are representatives that have been challenging that women should be allowed to enter the holy place now as the two Swamiyars are not residing at the Malayinkeezhu temple any longer.
#6 Patbausi Satra, Assam
Instituted by 15th century saint theorist Srimanta Sankardeva, the Patbausi Satra religious residence in Assam imposed the law of not allowing women into the sanctum sanctorum till the year 2010. On the other hand, this altered when the then Assam Governor JB Patnaik got in the Vaishnavite temple’s inside sanctorum with 20 women, performed rituals plus offered prayers.
#7 Jain Temple, Ranakpur
The renowned Jain temple at Ranakpur is dedicated to Tirthankara Adinatha. One out of the five most important Jain pilgrimage, this 15th century construction in Rajasthan forbids the entrance of women in their productive age.
We need to understand that not letting women inside the temples and holy places made sense in the past as women only could use old cloths to absorb their menstrual blood and thus, it could be foul-smelling and infectious. However, in today’s time, with the plethora of period supplies available now, these beliefs have no relevance since there is no danger of infection. Now they only serve the purpose of males and others in power by mistreating women and practicing inequality to feel superior. Menstruation is not in women’s hands. It is a scientific biological process and is rather beautiful and divine.