-Dev Ankur Wadhawan
The battle for women rights have been an uphill one. What with those with patriarchal mindset and a regressive attitude unwilling to let go of a mentality that festers male dominance.
The fight has been going on continuously and there are still several bastions which the women have been fighting for, to ensure that their rights and the rights of subsequent generations are secured and women are not treated like servile beings meant to fulfill the wishes and dictums of the males. There are layers and layers of glass ceilings, some less visible than others which have prevented women from attaining their rightful place in the society.
The famous Kerala based Sabrimala temple is one temple for which women continue to fight for, to gain entry into the temple premises and offer prayers. The entry of women of menstruating age has been prohibited inside the temple. However, women are fighting hard because they know that its a battle worth toiling hard for. After years of oppression, humiliation and being at the receiving end of regressive practices that encourage a patriarchal attitude, which looks at women as some second class citizens, an increasing number of those women now believe that its high time that they fight for the rights that rightly belong to them. And the fight to reclaim space in places of worship is just one of them.
The law of the land has also been supportive in this regard. The Maharashtra High Court, in what has been hailed as a landmark judgement, decided that women will be allowed inside the inner sanctum of Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah. The order has clearly helped in breaking another glass ceiling, allowing women to be a part of what was considered as a male preserve for decades.
Even though the Haji Ali Dargah Trust maintained that it would be a grave sin in Islam to allow a woman near the tomb of a male saint, the High Court has clearly ruled otherwise. Citing Article 14 which allows Equality before law, Article 15, which prohibits discrimination based on religious lines and Article 19 which ensures certain freedoms and Article 21 which covers Protection of personal life and liberty, the Court allowed any women, who wants to enter the dargah, to do so.
Prior to the Haji Ali Dargah, it was the fight to gain entry into the revered Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra which had caught attention. The entry for women in the core area of the temple had been banned for more than 400 years. However, doors to the worship place were opened for women and helped in ensuring that women gained their well deserved right to worship at a religious place.
There are several other examples, where women have been treated differently discriminated against on the basis of their gender. It conveys the kind of regressive, patriarchal mindset that those who manage some of the religious places still hold that makes them treat men and women differently.
The Eidgah Aishnagh, a famous place of worship in Lucknow, was another bastion where women were allowed separate designated area to offer their Eid prayers insider the Eidgah this year.
At the Trimbakeshwar Shiva temple based in Nashik, a move mentioning that women would only be allowed for an hour everyday and that too if they wore wet cotton or silk clothes while they offered prayers in the core area drew widespread criticism.
Future generations of women may have much to thank their predecessors for, for not giving up, for fighting for the rights against the odds and for trying to bring about changes in the society that ensures a more equitable society.