So many people instinctively cheered upon hearing that the Indian Supreme Court has ruled that women of all ages must be granted access to the Sabarimala temple in Kerala. Even I was thrilled that the court’s decision came down on the side recognizing women as equal to men even in religious spaces. However, on further thought, I’m afraid I’ve revised my opinion to a more unpopular or contentious view: I don’t believe that upholding a woman’s right to worship as she pleases in any one particular temple is more important than the principle that state law cannot and should not attempt to regulate religious belief systems. Doing so is entering very dangerous territory that is ultimately likely to backfire in some unexpected and deeply damaging way. Our constitution grants us freedom of religion for very good reasons.
Author: Usha Alexander
Usha Alexander is the Indian-American author of the novels The Legend of Virinara (Penguin India, 2018) and Only the Eyes Are Mine (Frog Books, Mumbai, 2005). Her writing has been featured in 3 Quarks Daily, is forthcoming in The Punch Magazine, and has appeared in various other publications, including an anthology, The Best American Travel Stories. She currently resides in Delhi/NCR, but you’ll find her on the web at www.ushaalexander.com