The Battle for Sabarimala: Religion, Law, and Gender in Contemporary India | Deepa Das Acevedo

When and Where

Monday, September 11, 2023 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
CG 265
Canadiana Gallery
14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9


Professor Deepa Das Acevedo, Emory University School of Law


Join us for the first seminar of the 2023-24 CrimSL Speaker Series on Monday, September 11!

Professor Deepa Das Acevedo will present "The Battle for Sabarimala: Religion, Law, and Gender in Contemporary India."

This is a free event, however, registration is required.

Prior to the seminar, join us for a light lunch from noon to 12:30 pm in the Centre Lounge. Please indicate your lunch RSVP for catering purposes when you register.


The Battle for Sabarimala tells the story of one of contemporary India’s most contentious disputes: a long-running struggle over women’s access to the Hindu temple at Sabarimala. In 2018, the Indian Supreme Court ruled that the temple, which had traditionally been forbidden to women aged ten to fifty because their presence offended the presiding deity, was required to open its doors to all Hindus. The decision in Indian Younger Lawyers Association rocked the nation: protests were launched around India and throughout the diaspora, a record-setting human chain called the ‘Women’s Wall’ was coordinated, and dozens of petitions were filed asking the Supreme Court to review, and potentially reverse, its landmark opinion. Perhaps most significantly, IYLA led the Court to openly reconsider the Essential Practices Doctrine that has been a mainstay of Indian religious freedom jurisprudence since 1954. In this monograph-length study of the dispute, legal anthropologist Deepa Das Acevedo draws on ethnographic fieldwork, legal analysis, and media archives to tell a multifaceted narrative about the ‘ban on women’. Reaching as far back as the eighteenth century, when the relationship between temple deities and the government was transformed by an ambitious precolonial ruler, and coming up to the litigation delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Das Acevedo reveals the complexities of the dispute and the constitutional framework that defines it. That framework, Das Acevedo argues, reflects two distinct conceptions of religion-state relations, both of which have emerged at various stages in the—still unresolved—battle for Sabarimala.

About Professor Deepa Das Acevedo

Visit her Emory University School of Law faculty profile.


Please note that CG 265 is on the second floor of the Canadiana Gallery building, with stair access only as there is no elevator. If you have any access needs or if there are any ways we can support your full participation in this session, please email and we will be glad to work with you to make the appropriate arrangements.

Health & Safety

We are following health and safety measures outlined by the University of Toronto and the Government of Ontario. Should there be changes in protocols related to health and safety of our guests and community, registrants will be advised.


14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9