MUMBAI — Amid protests against the Supreme Court order opening the Sabarimala temple in Kerala to women of all ages, Union minister Smriti Irani 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.
The Union textile minister was speaking at the "Young Thinkers" conference organised by the British High Commission and the Observer Research Foundation in Mumbai.
On 28 September, a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court, headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, lifted the ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the shrine.
Women have been stopped by Ayyappa devotees from climbing up to the Sabarimala temple as protests against the Supreme Court order opening the hilltop shrine to women of all ages continued across Kerala.
"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," she said.
Irani recalled that when her children were inside the fire temple, she had to stand outside on the road or sit in the car.
"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.