Custom and religion vs. gender discrimination


Custom and religion vs. gender discrimination

The contradictions and the conflict between the customary and constitutional are not new but the settled principle is that in eventuality of any conflict between these two it is the latter that will prevail. But the reality is something different from the theory. In India, Cremation is an important ritual for Hindus and most of the other religions. It is believed that after cremation, the soul is released from the dead body and is ready to be reborn.  The ceremony should only be done by the eldest son of the deceased and if he/she has no son then grandson and so on but it has to be a male from their family. The reason first reason behind this custom might be as women are considered as emotional and sensitive and they can’t handle the trauma of losing loved one and the second reason is that the dead person’s soul can’t get moksha (liberation) if the female performs the ceremony. There are few families who don’t believe in the said custom but number is very few.  There are certain religious places where women are not allowed to enter and pray. Whereas the Indian Constitution Provides equal right and privileges for men and women and make equal provision to improve the status of women in society, majority of women are still unable to enjoy the rights and opportunities guaranteed to them. So it will be not wrong to say in India religious equality is somehow not given to a woman though it’s guaranteed.  Initially for claiming religious equality movement was started by the lower caste Hindu with demand for equal access to certain religious institution for all classes and sexes has became a part of the struggle for social reform In India. In the month of March Bombay High Court directed Maharashtra government to take pro-active steps to ensure compliance of law and prevent discrimination against women on entry to places of worship, saying “it is the fundamental right of a woman” and the government should protect it. The court said this as it was disposing of a PIL challenging the bar on entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur temple in the Ahmednagar. The agitation was initiated by the BHUMATA RANRAGINI BRIGADE against the gender discrimination. The ban on women’s entry into the temple was from 400 years. There are number of religious places where women are not entitled to entry or not allowed to pray some of them are: In Ayyapan Temple, Subarimala (woman between 12-50 are no allowed to enter in temple, Shree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala, Patbausi Satra, Assam, in Jain Temple, Madhya Pradesh women wearing Western clothes and make up are not allowed to enter in temple,  Haji Ali Dargah Shrine, Mumbai ( presence of women near the grave of Muslim Saint is considered as sin,  Lord Kartikeya Temple, Pushkar (women entering inside Temple to be cursed and not blessed. But at the other hand the Constitution of India provides that all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, propagate religion and discriminated on the basis of sex, religion, caste, and place of birth is prohibited.



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