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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    What is the meaning of 'secular temple'?

    A Kerala BJP leader filed a petition before the High Court of Kerala seeking a ban on non-Hindus entering the sacred shrine of Sabarimala. the State Government of Kerala opposed the petition and stated the shrine or temple is 'secular' in nature. The LDF Government has also submitted to the Hon'ble High Court that while deciding this issue, the opinion of other stake-holders like Waqf Board, Vavar (Vavar-swami) Trust and Christian and tribal organisations must be sought.

    All of us know that the recent controversies on this temple. Perhaps we also know that most of the ladies who have tried to enter this sacred temple are either from non-Hindu communities or non-Malayali atheists. In this backdrop, this 'secular temple' issue will definitely create more controversies.

    First thing first. Can a place of worship of any community be secular in nature? Isn't secularism related to the affairs of the state and the attitude of people? Can this concept be brought to the places of worship?
  • #652889
    First the case was filed by the BJP leader seeking a ban on entry of Non Hindus and not for a ban on Hindus. I think it must be a typo error in the thread. Really Sabarimala issue has opened the Pandora Box of defining the Secularism in India.
    Yes as said by the author first things first. We first must debate on what is secularism in Indian context. This question has been a hotly contested and debated in constitutional cases. First the interpretation of secularism that it is related to state is a concept of west and not Indian. Indian secularism is called called positive secularism which is very different from the concept of western secularism which is negative in nature. What this means is in India state can enter religious domain and interpret religious customs which is not possible in west. In western secularism State doesn't involve in affairs of the religious Institutions. Analyzing further we need to understand that Secularism evolved as a concept in India against the backdrop of social evils like caste discrimination and religious animosity. But in west secularism evolved as a political concept of separating the affairs of state from the clutches of church. In practical sense for example In India temples are bound to not discriminate among different classes of people which is to further a Social objective of Non discrimination which is done by state. This was the reasoning Supreme court gave to allow women entry into Sabarimala overruling section 4 of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorization of Entry) Act,1965 (1965 Act). This stand was reiterated by Supreme court as in Ismail Faruqui Case which declared Mosques, temples and churches were declared to be secular places of worship. This practically means religious institutions are of course secular places as per Indian Constitutional jurisprudence. Government can make laws for thoroughgoing open any religious Institutions for any class of people overruling any custom, Act in prevalence.
    Now coming to the present case the very same section also prohibits Non Hindus from entering into sabarimala temple. Now as per circumstances here what I feel is missing among the legal debate is what the deity inside wishes. The myth surrounding the deity is of confusion. Article 21 gives equal importance to living persons as well as dead souls. Hence if the wish of the deity is such that to not allow entry of women then it must be respected. But until now interestingly no debate has surfaced around this. The celibacy of the deity, Religious sentiments are weak arguments against a powerful argument of equality under Article 14, 15 and Religious conscience under Article 25. Further Article 17 is supposed to include any class which is also a very powerful argument. Customs just carry the authority under Article 12, 13 which stand no where compared to the fundamental rights mentioned above.
    One discussion around Article 14 , 15 is the principality of equality must be for equally placed people . Under this argument believers of the myth and non believers stand apart. Even in Indian every faith is classified only as believers and non believers and not based on their allegiance to any religious Institutions. Thus as per law a Hindu can visit a church as much a Christian into temple until he adhere to the faith. Now the case here law clearly allows only Hindus. But Muslims very well come under believer of the faith as Muslims and Hindus have thronged the deity since time immemorial. In fact Supreme court allowed entry of women on the basis that they too are considered believers of the faith . In this case the separation of believers from Non believers is very difficult. Hence it is a very sensitive case. But it is completely pertinent that non believers must be prohibited.

  • #652890
    The term 'secular' to describe a place of worship is quite confusing. From the daily affairs of a country like India, people are already perplexed about the term 'secularism'.

    It is equally disturbing that people are raking up issues to create division. The apex court is going to listen to the review petitions filed by petitioners on 22 January. When a mater is already pending in the top court, let the top court decide on it. There is no need to file another petition to make things even complicated. Why there is a sudden craze among so many people to turn to religious places is not understandable.

    Before delivering the judgement on religious issues, let the apex court define the term 'secularism' again since all the political parties are misusing the term every now and then.


    "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

  • #652893
    Thanks Mr. Krishnan for pointing out the small but important mistake. I am correcting the mistake.
    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #652899
    Any person can choose any religion that is existing on the earth and he can happily live in a secular country. This is what my understanding says about a Secular country. Here for any person, there is no right to force his beliefs on another person who never believes. There should not be any discrimination between the people of one religion to other religion. Everyone should have equal rights and responsibilities. But political leaders changed this concept and trying to take advantage of this concept. That is why the concept of minorities has come into limelight.
    There is no point in going to a particular place of worship when you don't have a belief in that particular religion. But politicians started the practice of going to all places of worship to get the votes. That is why a Hindu leader will go to a church and Christian leader will go to a temple. All this is for getting votes only. A temple is a place of worship of a particular religion. How can we call it a secular place? People who want to visit should have belief in that diety and should respect the procedures. Otherwise, they should not be allowed in that place.

    always confident

  • #652901
    Partha, being a staunch supporter of a political party or being guided by the principles of Hindutva (not Hinduism) is fine. But whether you should be allowed to spread this venom is a serious topic that needs to be discussed. The abode of Dharmashashtha or Sree Aiyyappan has been accepted as a secular place of worship by all the believers. I am surprised how the so-called believers across the country have thronged together at this juncture to create a different picture. The aim is quite clear.

    What do you mean by stakeholders, Partha? Did any Islam claim the right over the shrine or the diety or the right to offer their prayers there? All those pious Hindus (not the Hindutva clan) bow their head, pray and take the blessings of Vavar Swami (a Muslim and said to be the best friend of Lord Aiyyappa) before beginning the climb on to the Holy Eighteen Steps that lead to the abode of Lord Aiyyappa.

    The 'Thirubavabharanam' or the Royal ornaments of the deity that is brought from his ancestral place is first taken to the Mosque dedicated to Vavar, which is accorded a ceremonial reception and the procession moves forward after that. All the public and religious institutions, irrespective of their religion or castes or creed provide all support to the pilgrims who visit the shrine during all occasions. Do you want more examples? Do you want to know why Sabarimala is said to be secular?

    For those of you who are allergic to the term and experience of secularism, these may sound odd. But this is a fact. Please don't try to hammer your narrowed thoughts into such beliefs. let it be there for the sake of humanity. after all, this is God's own Country! The Gods have not been specified.

    Apologies if I sounded harsh, but I could not help it. Exploitation will be countered.

    'It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it'. - Aristotle.

  • #652905
    In our country there is no restriction for anyone to enter the religious places either belonging to his religion or any other religion. Everyone is allowed to believe in any religion and it is thought as his right.

    So there is no issue in that but now people are trying to make the things complicated by not allowing others in their religious places. So this differentiation between my God and his God is definitely going to bring controversies.

    Knowledge is power.

  • #652913
    1. I first express my regret as I could not answer Mr. Saji Ganesh's queries in time due to my pre-occupation with my daughter's ongoing University examination.
    2. Firstly I want to state that I have not understood the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva, although I read articles regularly on this issue written by the illustrious people of the liberal gang. Only day before yesterday, I sought the answer to this question on ISC, but till now I have not received any satisfactory response. I am again asking: What is the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva?
    3. "What do you mean by stakeholders, Partha?"----------Sir, I humbly state that this particular word has not been stated by me; it is stated in the Affidavit filed by the State Government of Kerala in this case.
    4. "All those pious Hindus (not the Hindutva clan) bow their head, pray and take the blessings of Vavar Swami (a Muslim and said to be the best friend of Lord Aiyyappa) before beginning the climb on to the Holy Eighteen Steps ...."------------------Sir, I am fortunate enough to know the Babar Swamy story. Malayali Hindus, in general, believe this. But do the followers of Wahabi-sm in your state believe this?
    5. Do the believers of Lord Ayappa seriously think that the customs of the temple would have to be determined by consulting the followers of other faiths? Is it necessary that some of the followers of other faiths and atheists trample the tradition followed in this sacred temple with close cooperation of the atheist State Government which is least bothered about Indian ethos?
    6. Is this the meaning of secularism to you, Sir? Do we have to take permission from the religious leaders of other faiths to decide the procedures or to follow the tradition in our temples, Sir? Precisely this has been stated by the LDF Government, Sir.

    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #652918
    Partha, to the point number 4 of your response at #652913, will you agree if I say yes? Why should there be a Muslim cleric at the 'Vavar (not Babar) Swamy' temple otherwise?

    Your points at 5 & 6 do not merit an answer or justification because you have, as usual, fabricated facts to suit your interests. For someone who does not intend to look at the other side of the fence, no amount of words will suffice. I reiterate that venom easily spreads, especially when the blood is hot; do not make an attempt to spread the same.

    And Partha, what refrains you from being specific? Let not your responses remind us of politicians. And your preserved silence, always, after the discussion reaches a particular point is noted.

    'It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it'. - Aristotle.

  • #652919
    Strange that temples can be restricted for people of other religion. I pity such people who are so fickle minded, thinking of lifting a ban on people from other religion. I am shocked that they have made a data that non-Malayali or women from other religion try to enter the temple. This is not Hindutva or Hinduism as our religion tells us to be secular and don't differentiate people as per their religion.

    " It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not" ... Andre Gide

  • #652920
    1. In my previous response, I did not talk about the Muslims. I talked about the Wahabis. Maybe, some people don't bother for subtle differences. Sigh! Who can discuss the complex issues?
    2. "And your preserved silence, always, after the discussion reaches a particular point is noted."--------------Honestly, I have not understood. On what aspect, did I maintain silence?

    #652919: "I am shocked that they have made a data that non-Malayali or women from other religion try to enter the temple."-----------When women below 50 don't enter the temple, attempts to break the tradition by women following other faiths definitely merit questioning their intention.

    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #652922
    #652920 this is ridiculous. How can people decided who will enter the temple and who will not?

    " It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not" ... Andre Gide

  • #652923
    Mr. Gupta: Let me try to explain this particular case in details. First, an example. When we enter a Gurdwara, we cover our head with a handkerchief or any other piece of cloth. Why do we do this? To follow/pay respect to the prevailing custom of the Gurdwara.

    In Sabarimala Temple, there has been no bar of entry of followers of other faiths. But no lady below 50 years of age is not allowed to visit Lord Ayappa. It is expected that everybody must pay respect to this tradition. But, it has been seen that there is no controversy regarding entry of males from other faiths in the temple. Some ladies of other faiths who are below 50 are trying to enter the temple. Can't people expect that they should respect the tradition?

    This is the reason behind the thinking of some people that some elements are trying to ridicule our faith. So, there is a demand for barring entries of people following other faiths.

    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #652926
    Partha, what is the logic behind such tradition.

    Sikhs covered their head in respect of God. When we cover our head with a cloth it means we are giving respect to someone and God being supremo we do it that way. Also, the scientific reason behind this is covering head conserves energy and makes the brain sharp.


    " It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not" ... Andre Gide

  • #652929
    "Also, the scientific reason behind this is covering head conserves energy and makes the brain sharp."--------------Many people (including myself) don't believe such scientific logic. We follow this tradition while entering in a Gurdwara as this is the tradition followed by the Sikhs.

    Similarly, Lord Ayappa is considered a Brahmachari God. So, entry of below-50 women is not allowed in the temple. Followers of other faiths must respect this tradition.

    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #652930
    This is us who made this tradition. As per me, true Brahmachari doesn't mind seeing a female of any age. I am not against the tradition and faith of people it's just an opinion.

    " It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not" ... Andre Gide

  • #652933
    Partha, not that I missed out Wahabis. Why this filtering now? Just because you know that the Muslims in Kerala, generally, have never opposed the tradition? Narrow mindedness in such matters cannot be accepted even at the cost of being termed as a liberal or even anti-national (restricted and specified definition rules applicable). I suggest you resist from coming up with topics about which you are not clear just for the sake of propagating or promoting a disabled way of thinking.

    Let us not forget that the Supreme Court has ruled that women of any age can enter the temple and the state government, irrespective of its beliefs or affiliations, is bound to ensure that the order is implemented. I don't want to talk about all the moral policing that have gained mileage during the BJP regime, but do you advocate taking the law into your hands? If you take the analogy of terrorism where people are not bothered about the law, what would you call the actions by pro-Hindutva groups in Sabarimala? By not respecting the order of the highest judicial forum, are they not being anti-national? Or is that Hindus can go to any extent in the name of Hindutva? Shouldn't we be following a legally and socially acceptable procedure?

    There are many other ways to solve the issue. While I personally advocate that we should be following the age-old traditions, I don't think one needs to act as saviors of Hinduism. The Judiciary is not yet (not yet) blind. Why should we be worried? Hinduism is a way of life that has been around for ages and nothing can erode our culture and tradition. It is the loss of faith in our roots that is causing this fear. We need to overcome the same.

    'It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it'. - Aristotle.

  • #652943

    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

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