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The Sabarimala Temple controversy

Menstrual taboo and gender equality in religion

by Hoon Hee Lee

The Sabarimala Temple sits at the heart of India’s debate on whether the law should forbid religious practices that discriminate against women. Many Hindu temples have barred menstruating women from shrines, but in 2018, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision to lift the Sabarimala Temple’s prohibition. Still, this has not stopped protestors forcibly blocking women from passing through its doors.

What drives the resistance to changing gender norms in religious practices, and what is at stake as the cultural silence around menstruation begins to fade?

Sabarimala Temple: The temple of Lord Ayyappa

Pilgrims walking through the forest to the Sabarimala Temple.

What’s the matter with menstrual blood?
Menstruation and religious practice: A national dilemma
When period turns political
A shift in the tide
“Most of the women still use rags, old clothes, and live in perilous conditions during menstruation. Who is to be held responsible for it? Silence. Silence and stigma around menstruation that never gave space to women to demand menstrual care! Thus, I refuse to be silent.”
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at hello@kontinentalist.com
This story is written in collaboration with
Hoon Hee Lee

Hoon Hee was an intern at Kontinentalist. She dabbled in political science, philosophy and economics at Yale-NUS College. She wants to live in a world where people listen to each other’s stories.

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