The Madras High Court has said ‘dogma’ like preventing entry of a widow into a temple cannot happen in a civilised society governed by law and made it clear that a woman, by herself has an identity.
It observed it is quite unfortunate that archaic beliefs like that of a widowed woman entering a temple causing impurity to the shrine continue to prevail in the State.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh made the observation in his order dated August 4 while disposing of a petition filed by Thangamani. She sought a direction to the police to provide protection to her and her son in order to enter the Periyakaruparayan temple situated at Nambiyur Taluk in Erode District.
She wanted to participate in the two-day temple festival on August 9 and had given a representation in this connection last month.
The case of the petitioner was her deceased husband used to be the ‘Poojari’ (priest) of the said temple. During the ongoing Tamil ‘Aadi’ month, the temple committee decided to conduct a festival on August 9 and 10, 2023.
The petitioner and her son wanted to participate in the festival and offer worship. Two persons– Aiyavu and Murali seemed to have threatened her stating she should not enter the temple since she is a widow. Hence, she made a representation to the authorities to give police protection and since there was no response, she moved the high court.
The judge said though reformers are attempting to break such senseless beliefs, it continues to be practiced in some villages.
These are the dogmas and the rules framed by man to suit his convenience and it actually demeans a woman just because she has lost her husband. All this can never continue in a civilised society, which is governed by rule of law. If any such attempt is made by anyone to stop a widow from entering the temple, action must be taken against them in accordance with law, the judge added.
The court said a woman, by herself, has a status and identity and that cannot in any way come down or be taken away depending upon her marital status. In view of the same, Aiyavu and Murali do not have any right to stop the petitioner and her son from attending the festival and worshipping God, the judge added.
The court directed the Inspector of Police, Siruvalur Police Station, to inform Aiyavu and Murali they cannot stop Thangamani and her son from entering the temple and attending the festival.
If they attempt to create a law and order problem, action shall be taken against them immediately. The Inspector of Police shall ensure that the petitioner and her son participate in the festival both on August 9 and 10, 2023, the judge added.