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Indian court rules Hindu temple must allow all women entry

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s Supreme Court lifted a ban rooted in a centuries-old tradition that prevented women of menstruating age from entering a prominent Hindu temple in southern Kerala state, upholding rights to equality of worship.

The authorities at the Sabarimala temple, which attracts tens of millions of pilgrims every year, have said the ban on women and girls aged from 10 to 50 was essential to the rites related to the temple’s chief deity Ayyappan, considered eternally celibate.

Lifting the ban, the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said “restrictions put by Sabarimala temple can’t be held as essential religious practice”.

“No physiological and biological factor can be given legitimacy if it does not pass the test of conditionality,” he said.

Stating that society needs to undergo a perceptual shift, Mr Misra said “patriarchy in religion cannot be permitted to trump over element of pure devotion borne out of faith and the freedom to practise and profess one’s religion.”

The temple’s authorities said they will appeal against the verdict ahead of its next opening, which begins on Oct. 16.

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