Shashi Tharoor Differs from Congress, Says Sabarimala Must Allow Women

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February 10, 2016

Congress lawmaker and former UPA minister Shashi Tharoor today said he is against the Sabarimala temple's ban on women even though his party believes that the tradition should continue.

February 10, 2016

Congress lawmaker and former UPA minister Shashi Tharoor today said he is against the Sabarimala temple's ban on women even though his party believes that the tradition should continue.

Speaking to NDTV, Mr. Tharoor said, "My party has taken a stand that the Sabarimala tradition should be followed. But, I am personally against it – because I believe customs and traditions evolve."

The Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha member's remarks come at a time when the Supreme Court is hearing a petition, by the Indian Young Lawyers' Association, seeking entry for women all ages to the temple located in Kerala's Pathanamthitha district. The shrine dedicated to Lord Ayyapa in the does not allow women between the ages of 10 and 50.

The court had come down heavily on the temple management during a hearing on the petition last month. "Why can you not let a woman enter? On what basis are you prohibiting women's entry… What is your logic? Women may or may not want to go…but that is her personal choice," Justice Dipak Misra, who headed a three-judge Special Bench, said. The court has asked the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the shrine, to provide proof of its claim that the temple is following a centuries-old tradition.

Days earlier, the Congress-led Kerala government had told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that the issue of allowing women into Sabarimala is a matter of religion and a decision should be taken by the priests.

Mr. Tharoor said there is "nothing sacrosanct about social practices…Dalit were not allowed (to visit temples) till 1930s. Now they are." 

"I don't think God's dignity, whom we worship is capable of being polluted by human presence, and he or she who wants to worship should be free to…If one wants to go to the temple, I believe it's wrong to bar her on grounds of gender and especially between specific ages. This is my personal view, not as a party person," the lawmaker said.

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