Marital status cannot take away woman’s identity: Madras HC on widows’ right to enter temple

These observations were made while hearing a petition filed by a widow who was prevented from entering Periyakaruppan temple in Erode district

Madras High Court (photo: IANS)
Madras High Court (photo: IANS)


The Madras High Court has said a woman by herself has a status and an identity, and that cannot be taken away depending on her marital status.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh made the observation while hearing a petition filed by a widow, P. Thangamani, who was prevented from entering Periyakaruppan temple in Erode, saying that she was a widow.

He said that no person has the right to prevent a widow from entering a temple.

”It is quite unfortunate that archaic beliefs like a widow entering a temple will cause impurity continue to prevail in this state. Even though the reformers are attempting to break all these senseless beliefs, it continues to be practiced in some villages,” he said.

Justice Venkatesh further said, “These are the dogmas and rules framed by man to suit his convenience. It actually demeans a woman just because she has lost a husband. All these can never be allowed in a civil society governed by the rule of the law.”

The judge said that the police were duty bound to act against such persons indulging in these acts.

Petitioner’s counsel V. Elangovan brought it to the notice of the court that his client Thangamani was actually the widow of the former priest of the Periyakaruppan temple in Nambiyur Taluk of Erode district.

The counsel briefed the court that Thangamani's husband Pongiyannan passed away on August 28, 2017 leaving behind her and their only son. Advocate Elangovan informed the court that the Aadi festival is scheduled to be held in the temple on August 9 and 10, but two persons, Kuppusamy alias M. Murali and M. Ayyavu barred her from entering the temple.

The counsel informed the court that hence he was moving a petition in the court for providing police protection to his client.

After hearing the counsel, the court directed the Inspector of Siruvalar police station to summon the two individuals and to inform them that they cannot stop the widow or her son from entering the temple or attending the festival. The court said that despite the warning, if these individuals create any trouble, necessary action should be taken against them immediately.

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