MUMBAI, October 23: Amid protests over the entry of women in Sabarimala temple in Kerala, Union minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday said the right to pray did not mean the right to desecrate. “I am nobody to speak against the Supreme Court verdict as I am a serving cabinet minister. But just plain common sense is that would you carry a napkin seeped with menstrual blood and walk into a friend’s house. You would not. And would you think it is respectful to do the same when you walk into the house of god? That is the difference. I have the right to pray, but no right to desecrate. That is the difference that we need to recognise and respect,” Irani said.
She recalled a personal experience when she was made to stand outside the fire temple while her kids were allowed to go in, she had to stand outside on the road or sit in the car. “I am a practising Hindu married to a Zoroastrian. I have ensured that both my kids are practising Zoroastrians, who can go to the fire temple and pray. When I took my newborn son (to the fire temple), I would give him at the (temple) entrance to my husband and wait outside, because I was shooed away and told not to stand there,” she said.
The Union textile minister was speaking at the “Young Thinkers” conference organised by the British High Commission and the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai.
As the furore over her comment grew on social media, the minister took to Twitter to claim that the comment was ‘fake’ and that she would soon release the full video.
A five-judge constitution bench of the apex court had on September 28 lifted the ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine. However, women have been forcefully stopped by Ayyappa devotees from entering the Sabarimala temple. For the six days that the temple was open from last Wednesday, the protestors many-a-times got into a fight with the police to stop younger women from passing through the gates of the temple.
No woman or girl who is of menstural age was allowed to enter the temple despite the Supreme Court order which lifted the ban on women in the age group of 10-50 to visit the temple. (Agencies)