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Home / India / Smriti's 'personal' opinion on Sabarimala: Would you take a blood-soaked sanitary napkin to friend’s home?

Smriti's 'personal' opinion on Sabarimala: Would you take a blood-soaked sanitary napkin to friend’s home?

Textiles minister faces Twitter fury for comment, then comments some more to clarify
On Tuesday, Irani was speaking in the country’s financial capital at the Young Thinkers’ Conference, organised by the Observer Research Foundation and the British Deputy High Commission of Mumbai when the questions about Sabarimala were raised.

  |   New Delhi   |   Published 23.10.18, 11:46 AM

Minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday attempted to explain a citizen’s “right to pray” at and not “desecrate” a place of worship while speaking on the issue of women of menstrual age being kept out of Sabarimala temple.

She asked if anyone would take sanitary napkins, “steeped in menstrual blood, and walk into a friend’s home”. If not, then why would someone do that “in the house of God”, the textiles minister asked.

When some people on Twitter reacted sharply to her comments, which she had said were “personal”, the minister replied that she was being used as a “bait”.

On Tuesday, Irani was speaking in the country’s financial capital at the Young Thinkers’ Conference, organised by the Observer Research Foundation and the British Deputy High Commission of Mumbai when questions about Sabarimala were raised. When the event's host mentioned Sabarimala, Irani seemed to recall that a member of the audience had already put forward a question about the temple. 

Addressing this question, raised by a man from Kerala, Irani said: “I believe I have a right to pray, but I don't have the right to desecrate. And that is the difference we need to recognise and respect. So the difference is, I am nobody to speak on the Supreme Court verdict because I am a current serving cabinet minister. But just plain common sense.... Would you take sanitary napkins, steeped in menstrual blood, and walk into a friend’s home? You would not. And would you think it is respectful to do the same when you walk into the house of God? So, that is the difference. I have a right to pray. I do not have the right to desecrate. That is my personal opinion.” 

On September 28, the Supreme Court lifted the ban on entry of women of menstrual age into the Sabarimala temple. However, when the shrine opened recently, pitched battles started between devotees and policemen who tried to escort some women to the temple. Groups of women devotees stopped vehicles at the main gateway to Sabarimala and prevented women from trekking to the hill shrine, thus flouting the country’s highest court’s order.

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Irani’s comments have come at a time when the Left, which is in power in Kerala where the temple is located, has repeatedly alleged that the BJP and the RSS were behind the protests outside Sabarimala. On Tuesday, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the protests were a 'planned' and 'deliberate' attempt to create an atmosphere of tension in the state, reported PTI.

He alleged that the Sangh parivar was attempting to 'insult' and 'mislead' believers.

He said the faith of believers would be respected, but made it clear that the government had the responsibility to implement the Supreme Court order.

At the Mumbai event, Irani started her explanation with an anecdote. She said she was asked to stand outside when she took her children to the fire temple at Andheri in Mumbai. “I am a practising Hindu married to a Parsi. I have ensured that both my kids are practising Zoroastrians, who can go to the fire temple and pray. 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.

Some on Twitter accused the minister of propagating archaic notions of menstruation, others saw this statement in contrast with Irani’s campaign to ensure the entry of women into the Haji Ali dargah and the triple talaq case.

A section of social media users also came to Ms Irani’s defense saying that the minister’s comments were taken out of context:

Curiously, Irani later took to Twitter and while quoting a tweet containing a link to a news report on her statement, said: 'Fake news ...... calling you out on it. Will post my video soon.'

The minister tweeted later that her comments were '2 factual statements' and 'Rest of the propaganda/agenda being launched using me as bait is well just that ... bait.'

She added: 'As far as those who jump the gun regarding women visiting friend's place with a sanitary napkin dipped in menstrual blood, I am yet to find a person who takes a blood soaked napkin to offer to anyone let alone a friend.”

Written with PTI reports



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