Women are not allowed to function as priests in Hindu temples. Examine why. Also suggest if they should be allowed to work as priests and substantiate why. (200 Words)
Hindu religion is richly bestowed with multiple female goddess, yet it suffers from gender discrimination when it comes to the appointment of female priest. The main reason for this discrimination are:
- Biological: Menstruation is considered impure and thus women are not allowed during their menstruation period. This restrict their ability to secure priest position. “Impurity” of menstruation is described only in Manusmriti, which itself is a highly biased and contradictory text
- Procedural: Kankanam or tying of sacred thread can‘t be done by a one to the member of another gender if they don‘t have nuptial ties. This both restrict and open gate for women priest as Kankanam of women can be done by woman priest only.
- Patriarchy: Patriarchal society tries to exclude women from all sources of power and position.
- Marriage: Early marriage age of woman and pressure to bear child prevents her ability to acquire religious knowledge which needs prolonged training.
- Traditional: Absence of women from the priest position is so widespread that any idea of allowing women appear alien.
Adhiparasakthi Temple in Melmaruvathur, Tamil Nadu – a true temple of modern day society where women priests perform daily rituals even during their menstruation period since like other events this is also a natural phenomenon.
One of the major issues related to women empowerment is to allow women to choose their livelihood. Thus it would be an injustice if they are discouraged in religious appointments. Equality of opportunity is also a fundamental right guaranteed to every Indian. Though people may object it by the right of religious freedom (Article 25-28) but we should not forget that these rights are qualified and have to yield for social reforms. Hence women priest should be allowed by taking various religious qualification related to their education and training into consideration so that women rights and religious sanctity are balanced.