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Adivasis stake a claim on Sabarimala

The perceived untouchability of the Malai Arayans that led to them being stripped of their ownership of and observances in the Sabarimala Temple need to be revisited and examined by the Supreme Court, along with the 50-odd review petitions scheduled for hearing on 22 January 2019, writes P.N. Sankaran

In its judgment on the Sabarimala Temple, in the India Young Lawyers’ Association vs State of Kerala case, delivered on 28 September 2018, the Supreme Court declared that prohibiting entry of women of menstruating age (10-50 years) was a form of untouchability. The verdict states, “A claim for the exclusion of women from religious worship, even if it be founded in religious text, is subordinate to the constitutional values of liberty, dignity and equality. Exclusionary practices are contrary to constitutional morality.” One of the unexpected fallouts of the controversy over the restriction on women’s entry into the Sabarimala Temple is the demand for restoration of the ownership of the temple to the Malai Arayans, an Adivasi community.

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About The Author

P.N. Sankaran

Sankaran is a development economist and former head of Department of Economics, University College, Thiruvananthapuram. Sankaran was the chairperson of the commission set up by the Government of Kerala in 2012 to study the problems faced by the members of the Vishwakarma community, who have traditionally been artisans. He has contributed a chapter titled 'Traditional Artisans as Stakeholders in CSR: A Rehabilitation Perspective in the Indian Context', in the book 'Redefining Corporate Social Responsibility' (Developments in Corporate Governance and Responsibility, Volume 13) published in 2018 by Emerald Publishing (UK)