<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As the passing year witnessed greater disputes over various laws, people also came out disagreeing with beliefs and customary practices that had been kept on a pedestal. Not only did women come out protesting against age old traditions barring them from being as devotional as others. They also opposed religious personal laws demanding a better quality of life, denying being a victim of things which don’t hold relevance in the 21st century.While 2016 might go down in history as one of the worst years for a few, it did have some redeeming qualities. It was a good year for many a believers who received a huge return on their spiritual investment.The greatest of all victories was when the Shani Shignapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra finally agreed to let female worshippers in after 400 years. This was the result of a long-drawn-out battle spearheaded by the Bhumata Brigade, led by the firebrand Trupti Desai. The women waged a pitched battle for their right to worship and questioned age old patriarchal practices. Not stopping here, the group of feisty women are taking their battle to other temples like the Sabrimala in Kerela where women of a menstruating age are forbidden from entering and offering prayers.The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) led by Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Niaz, pitched a similar battle to enter the inner sanctum of Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah. The ban that was just instituted four years ago, prohibited women from entering the inner sanctum of the dargah. In August this year the Bombay High Court held that the ban against women entering the inner sanctorm of the dargah contravenes Articles 14, 15 and 25 of the Constitution of India. The court ordered the Dargah Trust to lift the ban. Though the matter went to the Supreme Court, the women emerged victorious finally entering the shrine on November 30. It was indeed a moment of pride for the Christians across the world as well, as they rejoiced at Mother Teresa being granted ‘sainthood’. The Catholic nun who had devoted her life to caring for the dying and the destitute on the streets of Kolkata, was officially canonized at the Vatican this year and rechristened Saint Teresa of Calcutta by Pope Francis. From rationalists debating over the importance given to ‘miracles’ and amid the constant accusations of conversions, no one can doubt that the Missionaries of Charity have given hope and dignity to some poorest and most miserable people in the city.Meanwhile, Pope Francis also revealed a more inclusive face of the Roman Catholic Church by asking Christians to stop hate crimes and discrimination against the LGBT community. He said that the church must apologise to gay people for marginalising them. While he did not budge from the church’s stand on marriages as being an exclusive heterosexual privilege and did not endorse same sex marriages, this has been seen as a big step forward in making the church more rainbow friendly. Mumbai’s Cardinal Oswald Gracious too asserted that gay people were not criminals and all Christians must be welcomed by the church. With the rising debate over triple talaq and the growing demand to revise the Article, the Law Commission of India released a questionnaire in October on Uniform Civil Code (UCC) asking citizens for their suggestions. With the possible introduction of UCC giving rise to a heated debate across the country many fear that the law is actually a tool to erase cultural practices and religious identities. However, the UCC, at least prima facie, is merely a uniform law that would subvert all religion based personal laws in matters related to marriage, divorce, inheritance, adoption and maintenance. Different faiths see UCC as a way to do away with mysogistic practices like triple talaq in Islam, polygamy in both Islam and Hinduism (permitted in Goa) and the practice of ‘maitri karar’ or ‘friendship agreement’, a practice in Gujarat that legally allows a man to have another women in his life apart from his wife. Women also hope matters related to mehr and dowry become clear. It remains to be seen how the UCC plays its part in bringing about greater gender justice.
Continue reading here: