I have been trying to understand this issue for a long time. It is a strange world that I had to understand as a young boy when my mother could not attend a wedding in the family. She traveled with us all the way and then had to exclude herself from mixing with people. It was the introduction to women's issues that were never talked about but were always there. If not for the biology class that described the ovary, Fallopian tubes, and the uterus, and why bleeding happens, the whole thing would have been a bloody mystery to me. (Yes, the horrible pun intended; hehehe!) It is darn stupid to exclude girls and women from regular life just because they menstruate.
Now consider a temple setting. A Hindu temple, like any place of religious worship, is not a place for reason. It is about faith, and like all religious faiths, well, it is irrational. In such a faith context, bleeding women are typically not allowed to go anywhere near the pooja (worship) room at homes and, of course, the temples too.
I have no quarrels over how people want to practice their faiths. It is up to the believers to think about how awful their faith-based everyday life can be, like with banning menstruating believing women from the zone.
So, if some of the faithful think it is not kosher to ban the menstruating women from temples, what options do they have to correct the injustice as they perceive it?
In India, that's what apparently led a few to approach the court--in the context of the Sabarimala temple ban on females between 10 and 50 years of age. Why the court, you might wonder. Because, unlike here in the US, India's temples have government oversight.
The ban was enforced under Rule 3 (b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965 (women at such time during which they are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship).So, if the government oversees the functioning of temples, then, of course, the judicial arm of the government has a say in whether menstruating women should be barred from entering temples.
A Special Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra, which is hearing the Sabarimala temple entry issue, will consider the intervention application. The students want the apex court to address and decide on whether modern society should continue to bear with “menstrual discrimination” when the Indian Constitution mandates right to equality and health of women to achieve gender justice.As you read this, perhaps you think, "wait a second, this is bizarre." But, bizarre is in the eye of the faithful. Barring menstruating women from temples is not bizarre to many believers (including women), just as wrapping up women in burqas is not bizarre to another group of the faithful. Many churches in old Europe do not allow female tourists in skirts or without a scarf over their heads--bizarre faith-based practice. What is bizarre to one is apparently holy to another!
Why only the Sabarimala temple? The "Happy to Bleed" campaign began after this:
"A time will come when people will ask if all women should be disallowed from entering the temple throughout the year," Prayar Gopalakrishnan, who recently took charge of the hilltop temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, told reporters earlier this month.Ah yes, surely science and technology can deliver such a gadget--there are plenty of smart Indians, women too, who can work on it ;)
"These days there are machines that can scan bodies and check for weapons. There will be a day when a machine is invented to scan if it is the 'right time' for a woman to enter the temple. When that machine is invented, we will talk about letting women inside," he added.
Back to the high court in India:
At a preliminary hearing on Friday, Justice Misra had asked whether the Vedas, Upanishads and scriptures discriminate between men and women. “Is spirituality solely within the domain of men? Are you saying that women are incapable of attaining spirituality within the domain of religion? Can you deprive a mother?” Justice Misra had asked.Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to, therefore, conjecture that women cannot be priests at temples, right? That controversy will be for another day! All this atheist can do is observe such happenings and comment on this mad, mad, mad religious world ;)