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Sabarimala Issue : Gender Discrimination vs Religious Sentiments

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Historical Background

Sabarimala Temple is located in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala, India. It is an ancient temple of god Ayyappan. Ayyappan is an eternal celibate (Bhramachari) Hindu god. In 12th century, Manikandan prince of Pandalam Dynasty meditated at Shabarimala Temple.  It is believed that, Ayyappan visited him and he became an “Avatar” of God Ayyappan.

The Travancore Derasworm Board (TDB) manages the Temple. It is also considered as the Second Largest Annual Pilgrimage after Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Sabarimala Temple which only opens seasonally is in middle of at Pariyer Tiger Reserve on top of the hill. One has to pass through Tiger forest and a traverse a difficult path to reach Sabarimala temple.

There are special rules for pilgrims to visit the Ayyappan temple. Devotees have to follow 41 days Austerity Period (Vritham). In those 41 days, Pilgrims have to bathe twice a day with cold water, should use special clothes, wear special Mala of Rudrakshya and Tulsi, have special vegetarian diet, should be barefoot, be celibate, control the anger, fully devote themselves to God and cannot cut their nails and hair, among others.

Women aged between 10 to 50 are not allowed to enter Sabarimala Temple.  So this temple was in highlight since last few decades.

 

Issue in Court

In September of 2018, the issue of disallowing the women of age group 10-50 inside temple went to the court in the name of discrimination against women. The Temple’s management told Supreme Court that women of menstruating age can’t be allowed on account of ” Purity .”  The Supreme Court reached the verdict allowing women of all ages in the Ayyappan Temple, Kerala.

The Five Judge Constitution Bench verdict came 4:1 in favor of lifting the ban saying that banning the entry of women in Sabarimala Temple is an act of gender discrimination and the practice violates the rights of Hindu women. Interestingly, the only woman judge on the panel opposed this by saying, “the issues of deep Religious sentiments should not be ordinarily interfered by the court.

 

Case in Context

Although Supreme Court allowed women of all ages to enter the temple, temple board and locals didn’t allow women to enter the temple.  Many women attempted to enter but they were stopped.  Some women had attempted to enter the temple on December 24 amidst mass protests, accompanied by a 50-member police battalion. While less than a kilometer away from the hilltop, the women were forced to climb down to the base camp at Pamba. Millions of Women formed “Human Chain” or “Women’s Wall” of 620 km in Kerala in protest. The “Women’s Wall” was organised by the state’s left-wing coalition government.

On January 2, 2019, two Kerala women, Bindu and Kanakadurga, made history by setting foot in the Sabarimala temple. As soon as Temple Management knew that women under 50 were there, Temple was closed and the “purification” process inside the temple started. On the very next day, a Sri Lankan woman also tried to enter but she was obstructed in the stairs.

Kerala meanwhile continues to be on the boil as local groups went out on streets to protest the entry of women at Sabarimala. They are supported by BJP and RSS. Also they are blaming the Communist Chief minister for breaking of old tradition of Temple. Businesses and transport services have been hit the worst in Kerala.  Meanwhile, Supreme Court has agreed to hear in open court review petitions in Jan 22, challenging its verdict allowing entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple.

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday (Jan 8) observed that Sabarimala is meant for devotees and stated that the state government should be able to identify those with a ‘hidden agenda’ who intend to ruin the peace at the shrine.

Now, final decision will be given by Supreme Court, whether it will restore the Ban on Women of age 10 to 50 or stands on its previous decision to lift the ban inside Sabarimala Temple.

What do you think about this Issue? Is it Gender Discrimination or not? Should the ban on women of age group 10-50 should be restored?? Should court interfere on religious beliefs or not? Your thoughts and views regarding this issue are welcome in the comments section.

I love to share whatever I have learned and known, to people in search of knowledge and information. Small contribution in making of well-informed world.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. सुशान (@AdhikariSushan)

    January 14, 2019 at 7:43 am

    In my opinion religious sentiments unless they directly or indirectly harm human health and human self respect can be(or should be) given enough time for their gradual change rather than interfering to bring a rapid change.

    In cases like mensuration having sentiments directly effecting human health, I strongly oppose the tradition where girls/women are supposed to stay away from family member,not to touch anything or anyone and celebrate any festivals.In name of religion no one should be treated badly and harmed physically . In those circumstances of physical,emotional and social discrimination and tortures from religious behavior law should be enforced to change it immediately.

    But with some practices (may be unscientific) if they don’t cause any physical harm or direct discrimination to any individual they should be given enough time to change. The time will itself bring the change needed and this will be done without any harm and disrespect to old belief and tradition.

    Opinion can be both, it being a gender discrimination and needs law enforcement for immediate change or deep religious sentiments without any harm ( Respecting others sentiments and not going specified temple for specified time actually doesn’t physically harm anyone,stops anyone from their enjoying their life and cause serious case of discrimination resulting difficulty in their day to day life )and not be interfered expecting gradual change with time and increasing literacy.

    The only woman judge on the panel for the case choose it to be the issues of deep religious sentiments should not be ordinarily interfered by the court while other 4 men saw gender discrimination . Now let all the five judges be women and decide what is right.
    Need to say, I personally see the women judge opinion being right for the case although the men judges are not wrong too.

  2. Yagya Raj Adhikari

    January 14, 2019 at 8:04 am

    It should be published as a new post. 😉

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Knowledge & Infos

How Einstein Discovered Time Travel

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Photo by Zulfa Nazer on Unsplash

In the year 1905 A.D, Einstein published his work that later came to be known as the “theory of special relativity”. The paper consisted of ideas that were far ahead of its time. The theory was revolutionary but also was so unconventional that it shook peoples intuition about space and time. The former concept of time being universal to all the being on and off earth was changed by him. His theory postulates that the speed of light will be same irrespective of the state of motion of its source.

His theory brought about the concept of time dilation. Time dilation simply means, that time runs slower when you travel at speed comparable to the speed of light i.e “c”. Now this may seem to be uncommon or had to visualize but its a proven phenomenon and that is how he discovered the ways for time travel. From his theory the following can be used for future time travel:

Speed:

It might come as a shock but the people in the international space station that is always rotating earth at a high speed are actually time travelers. Their constant state of motion in comparatively high speed bring about the minuscule level of time dilation. This dilation causes them to age slower than the rest of people on earth. In other words, if we are able to travel at a speed of 90% of light’s speed we will age 2.6 times slower than people on earth. Travel now at that speed and leave earth, if we come back after 4 years the earth will have already advanced by 10 years. That means we literally jumped 6 years of earth time. Though our friends on the ISS don’t experience such big time jump, but they do gain some very very small amount of extra time.

The particles that runs through particle accelerators like LHC, are very lucky. They travel at a speed of 99.99% of speed of light and for them 1 sec is equal to 11 months on earth normal time. This is the result of time dilation and thus Einstein discovered or more like theorized it.

 

Gravity:

The other method also came from Einstein. This time general relativity. In general relativity he introduced the concept of how the universe experiences the space and time as wide spread cloth that can bend when an object is placed over it. For simplicity imagine a stretch trampoline with a heavy ball in the middle. Those curves around the ball is the bend in space and time. Now if the ball is big enough to bring about a major bend in space and time, he says it can slower the time. Precise atomic clocks at different gravity level have been used to test for this phenomenon and turns out, it is true. When an object is subjected to heavy gravitational force it experiences a slower time. Practically, we would need a very heavy object like a black hole or other such scale heavenly bodies to see a significant time jump for us. Though it seems not feasible for humans any time soon, the clocks on the satellites seem to experience it all the time. Those clocks and the clocks on earth are required to be constantly synchronised taking in account for the gravity to keep them functioning.

The GPS satellites are constructed taking in account for both the time dilation and gravitational effects. If any one of them is left out, your GPS won’t be working as precisely as it should be.

Wormholes:

As explained in the movie “Interstellar”, wormholes are holes in spacetime connecting two different points of space and time. These “holes” in spacetime are also the solution to the equation published by Einstein in his theory of general relativity.   Theoretically, anything that goes through wormholes can jump between two points of space and time. It is believed that many wormholes are being constantly created and destroyed in the quantum level but finding a wormhole that can fit a person or a spaceship is a challenge yet to be completed.

Conclusion:

Apparently, time travel isn’t really an unattained dream at this point. The only compromise is it is not significantly large and we can’t seems to control at which point we exactly want to go. If you are still thinking about traveling back in time then it is discussed in this post. What you think about time travel? let us know in the comment.

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Knowledge & Infos

Report: Sexual Behavior trend among sexually-active urban Nepalese youth

We had conducted an online survey to learn about sexual behavior, trend and pattern, among Nepalese urban youths. It’s a report based on that.

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Image: Unsplash

In order to learn sexual behavior trend among urban Nepalese youth, we had asked Kmag followers to participate in a survey anomalously to answer the following questions:

  1.  Their age when they had their first sex
  2.  Gender.  Options given were:  Male, female, and others.
  3.  District where they had their first sex.
  4. We had asked if it was before marriage or after marriage.
  5.  If it was a casual sex or while in relationship.



There were 396 respondents participating in the survey, out of which  284 had identified themselves as male,  109 had identified themselves as female, and 3 had identified themselves as Other (LGBTQ).

 

Background of respondents

Kmag being an English magazine and most followers being from Kathmandu and other major cities within the age bracket of 18-35, respondents can be classified as Urban Nepalese youth with good English proficiency, making them relatively exposed to global trend and modern values.   Thus, this survey may or may not represent the whole Nepalese youth, but can be good hint to gauge the pattern and trend of sexual behavior among Nepalese youth in whole.

Purpose of the survey

Purpose of the survey was to learn the sexual behavior among urban Nepalese youth, basically in terms of:

  1.  At what age, they begin to be sexually active.
  2. Gender wise sexual behavior.
  3. Percentage of premarital sex.
  4.  Nature of sexual relationship.

Authenticity of the survey

The survey was conducted online through anonymous form.  There can be a chance of false information being provided.  However, the case should only be marginal.

Data Analysis (WHAT WE FOUND)

Going through the data collected, we have broken down the data to make analysis on following heading

Average age at the time of first sex (Lost Virginity)

Per the report, the age at which respondents claimed to lose their virginity ranged from 13 years old to 30 years old.

In an average, sexually-active urban Nepalese youths had lost their virginity at age 20.36, in which males had lost their virginity at age 20.15 in average, and females at age 20.79 in average.  45% of males and 40% of females were found to have lost their virginity at age between 17-20.   However, data also showed a pattern that quite lot of females lose their virginity in early and mid 20s (35%), whereas males tend to lose their virginity in their late teen.

There in the figure, you can see number of respondents who had lost their virginity at the respective ages.

Teenage sex

181 out of 396 respondents had their first sex in their teenage.  That means 45.7% respondents had their first sex in their teen age.

Breaking it down gender wise:

Male:  47.5% of male respondents had their first sex in their teen age.

Female:  42.2% of female respondents had their first sex in their teen age.



Premarital sex

368 out of 396 respondents had their first sex before marriage, making it 92.92%.

Only 14 females out of 109 had sex after marriage, making 87.16% females with premarital sex.

Likewise,

Only 14 males out of 284 had sex after marriage, making 95.07% males with premarital sex.

 

Nature of Sex

We had asked if their first sex was casual sex or with someone they were in relationship with.

64.89% had their first sex with someone they were in relationship with.

35.11% had their first sex with someone they were not in relationship and had it as casual sex.

To break it down, gender wise:

116 out of 284 males had their first sex as casual sex (40.84%)

21 out of 109 females had their first sex as casual sex (19.26%)

This pattern says casual sex being usual and normal among youth, especially in their early days of exploring sexual life.

To summarize

  1.  Most urban youths from Nepal seem to become sexually active from age 17.
  2.  Average age of losing virginity among these youth is 20.38 years old.
  3.  Within sexually-active demography, premarital sex holds 92%.
  4.  3 in 10 had their first sex in casual bonding and not with someone in relationship.

Recommendation

This online survey may not give the exact picture of sexual behavioral of Nepalese youths in general, but it pretty much can hint us on the sexual behavior pattern and trend among urban Nepalese youths.

40% and more sexually-active youths were active since their teenage.
Likewise, there are 92% sexually-active youths before marriage itself.

In the country like Nepal where sex is still a taboo and neither at home nor in everyday life people openly talk about it, it’s in a way scary that so many youths are sexually active in a sexually-conservative society with no support system in case of pregnancy outside marriage or STDs.   The lack of sex education, awareness, and support system are putting so much of youths in such a vulnerable position that if anything goes wrong, they are forced to deal with it secretly.

For betterment of all, we recommend strong support system for sexually-active youths to reach out for help when in need.  Also, we recommend active sex education and awareness to build a healthy society.

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Knowledge & Infos

Why government is hell bent for “Nijgadh Airport”

This piece is written giving benefits of doubt to government based on the interview and giving more dimensions to the debate.  Don’t mistake us as supporting the project or advocating for.

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Let’s assume there is no ill intention.  Let’s think Nepal government, or to be more precise, NCP-led government has real good plan and reasoning behind why they want to spend billions of dollars for an airport of Kathmandu size.  Let’s give them all the benefits of doubt – all in good faith.

There is no official statement as such on why but going through old interview in Nepali Times of late Rabindra Adhikari, Aviation Minister then, the man behind bringing back this 90s agenda from coma, had said this in an interview, where he was asked.

Q.  Why this mega Int airport when two more international airports coming up in Bhairawa and Pokhara …

Rabindra Adhikari:  You cannot compare Bhairawa and Pokhara with Nijgad. Not even Kathmandu will match Nijgad Airport’s scale and scope. It will be an international air hub — a real game changer for Nepal’s economy. International flights from over two dozen cities will be landing every day, tens of thousands of passengers will catch connecting flights. Planes will also be making stopovers for refueling. It will be bigger, more advanced and busier than any other airport in Nepal.

Reading between the lines said by Rabindra Adhikari, that is what government is up to — it is making an International Air Hub.

Government is not building this airport to lower air congestion or whatever you call it focusing on Nepalese people alone.  They are up to something bigger and that is Air Hub.

What is Air Hub

Airline hub or hub airport is an airport used by one or more airlines to concentrate passenger traffic and flight operations at a given airport.

To put it in a perspective, let’s say three people from Pokhara are flying to US, 5 from Kathmandu, 2 from Bhairahawa, 1 from Nepalgunj, 10 from Chitwan, and there is only direct flight to US from Nepal.  The airline cannot go to each airport to pick its passengers, so what happens in real world is different airlines bring these people to one airport, from where the direct airline for US to take them.  That one mother of all airport is called Air Hub.

You must be aware that every Nepalese (or Indian) flying to US are generally first taken to Dubai and then from there, will be taken to US.  The Dubai Airport here acts as Air Hub.

That’s basic understanding of Air Hub.

Now, you may say, “But then, even in that case, Nepal does not have that many passengers to cover the handling expenses of Air Hub.”

Exactly.  So that means, government is eyeing to much bigger picture.  They want Nepal to be Air Hub, not to concentrate passengers from different parts of Nepal alone but different countries from South Asia (and other regions) from the continent.  Maybe, they want to be alternate to Dubai or Hong Kong, that Indian flight passengers or Bangaladeshi or Sri Lankian flying to US or Australia to be brought to Nepal, from where direct flights operate.

Air hub is not only about passengers but also to deal with cargoes and many other air-industry related activities.




What’s the benefit

When you are connecting points for everyone, you can earn good money through freight charges, services charges, fuels, and many other trades and charges.  Not just that but also, when you are center point, you attract more businesses around, adding more to GDP.  So basically, huge boost to country’s economy.

Conclusion

Going by the interview, Nijgadh Airport seems like an ambitious investment plan of Nepal government, hoping, if it succeeds to build one, Nepal can get good return along with national pride.  Now, of course, there is a threat from India which only gives one entry point and yet to see how diplomacy will succeed to get India cooperate with Nepal to turn into an Air Hub.

So in case you are thinking and wondering why Nepal needs such a massive airport when we already have 3 international airports, now you have the clue.  Tax payers money is not enough to build such Air Hub by Nepal alone, and it needs to borrow the money from somewhere from someone.  The other side will only give money when they know the plan that seems realistic and feasible.  If Nepal gets the money, there is something really promising in the plan.  At least, let’s hope so, giving the benefits of doubt to the government.

We wrote this piece giving benefits of doubt to government based on the interview and giving more dimensions to the debate.  Don’t mistake us as supporting the project or advocating for.

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