The Supreme Court’s order allowing Parsi woman, married outside the community to enter the Fire Temple in Valsad, Gujarat, has brought cheer in the lives of Parsi women. The apex court’s verdict is forward looking and can bring changes in the lives of Parsi women, who have to undergo various hardships after marrying outside their community. The Buslar Parsi trust informed the Supreme Court that it will permit Parsi woman Goolrukh Gupta, married to Hindu man, to attend her parents’ funeral prayers and other functions whenever the need arises. Gupta was prohibited from entering the Parsi temple of fire. She was excluded from Parsi religion and was barred from attending other ritual functions.
The last rites of deceased Parsis are held at Tower of Silence where people belonging from other religion are denied entry. Therefore, a Parsi woman, marrying a person from other religion, too is not allowed to enter the temple. Under the Parsi customary law, Gupta had lost the right to visit the ‘Tower of Silence’ in the event of her father’s death to perform the last rites. Therefore, she approached the court seeking a declaration that since she had married outside the religion she should not be restrained from attending her father’s funeral ceremony. The Gujarat High Court nonetheless upheld the customary law in 2010 as Gupta then challenged the verdict in Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court verdict has provided relief to Gupta as she can enter Parsi temples and also attend other religious functions.
Jyoti Badekar, Janta Dal (Secular) General Secretary, Mumbai said, “First of all, I would like to congratulate Parsi women for fighting for their rights and creating awareness about it in the society. The Indian constitution grants freedom to people to choose, practice and propagate their religion. Fundamentalists always oppose woman marrying outside the community.”
Advocate Manaswi Tayade said, “As per provision of Special Marriage Act, a person can have an inter-caste marriage. Goolrukh had done the right thing by filing a petition with the Supreme Court and has finally been granted justice. This is a revolutionary verdict and it will inspire women to fight for their rights.”
Advocate Abha Singh said, “The Supreme Court has delivered a right verdict allowing Goolrukh to enter Parsi temple. When Parsi women marry outside their community then they are denied several rights by Parsi Panchayat. Time has come to end discrimination against Parsi women. The apex’ court’s verdict will go a long way to deliver justice to them. All the litigation expenses borne by Goolrukh should be reimbursed by the court.”
Advocate Siddharth Chandrashekhar, member, MRCC Legal Cell said, “It’s a very enlightened judgement, as it creates a more level playing field for both genders on religious matters but also is a move towards women empowerment. It will hopefully pave the way for women to take more of an active part in religious affairs.”
Noorjehan Safia Niaz, Co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan said, “We also had to file a petition for banning triple talaq. The so called custodians of different religions have imposed rules which have to be followed by women. They are unwilling to hear the grievances of women and sideline them. How can a women’s religion cease to exist after she marries into other community? Whenever women fight for their rights they have to face stiff opposition. We are supporting Goolrukh in her fight for providing justice for Parsi women.”