Caught in the act

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/4/2019 12:51:18 PM IST

 Kerala is witnessing a battle between forces having varied vested interests over an ancient tradition which has provided an opportunity to show that each of them is right but for the ordinary Indian all of them are only partly right. Lakhs of women are on the streets of Kerala protesting against the judgement and yet, not one person is willing to listen to them. Following the ruling of the Supreme Court to permit women devotees to enter the Sabarimala temple as barring women was in violation of Article 25 (Clause 1) and Rule 3(b) of Kerala Hindu Places of Worship. Though the Supreme Court issued the order, women activists posing to be devotees, including a Muslim woman activist. As a consequence of the action, the Jama-ath Council expelled Rehana Fathima from the community for trying to enter Sabarimala which was against the religious sentiments of lakhs of Hindus.On January 3, two women activists entered the temple and made a history but Kerala is boiling due to several protests. The protests were against the Left government in Kerala for allowing two women activists from entering the temple. It was interesting that Lakhs of women came out on the streets of Kerala protesting against the judgement of the Supreme Court in setting aside the ban imposed by management of the Sabarimala temple against women of certain age groups who were still in the menstrual cycle. The Sabaramila temple episode is a classic example of how contemporary thinkers are trying to toy with the past. For one, the present conflict is about so-called gender equality and fundamental rights. The Sabaramila episode was explained as a fight between women and patriarchy whereas the actual fight was between urban feminists and tradition, ignoring the beliefs of women devotees of Ayyappa. The so-called women activists who are least bothered about religious practices other than the agenda of feminism, have announced that the issue involved anti-women prejudices. The feminine voices against Sabaramila( and the medieval practices) has been raised as an issue for contemporary society. However, what has been heard and written about, was all about how the guilt of the Sabarmila temple because the mainstream media consistently aired the view of urban feminists, because of their privilege and access. One point that needs to be clearly explained and amplified is that , unlike the vague explanation, equality does not mean sameness. Women may be in the same group historically as being of the same sex;but that does not mean they all share the same ideology or think the same way, dress the same, talk and walk the same or even share the same aspirations. Therefore, if women don’t belong or identify themselves as belonging to the same group because of different backgrounds, hopes, dreams, languages, expressions, bodies and preferences then surely and certainly, can they be defined as feminists? Today, what is being heard is all about women issues, gender equality and women’s rights. Those who raise the voices for gender equality are those English speaking, rich, urbane women who believe that they are called to speak for women’s rights in favour of their native sisters who lack education. The BJP has claimed credit for emancipation of Muslim women through triple talaq ordinance but it thinks nothing of the bias against Hindu women. Thus, both the feminists and BJP seek to gain from the case but both of them are terribly out of sync with truth.

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