Advertisement

Ban in history bin as women enter Shani Temple

04:30 PM May 31, 2019 | Free Press Journal Correspondant

Access core area at Shani temple, offer prayers ,

Ahmednagar : Another male bastion has fallen. In a major boost to the campaign for gender equality, the famed Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra on Friday lifted a centuries-old ban on entry of women at the sanctum sanctorum, yielding to a high voltage crusade by activists and court directions.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Last week, the temple had said neither men nor women would be allowed into the area that has an idol placed on an outdoor platform. The new restrictions were introduced to circumvent a court ruling that women and men must have equal access to Hindu places of worship. To keep women out, the temple barred entry of male devotees as well, and said only male priests would be allowed into the inner sanctum.

Advertisement

Soon after the temple trust announced the decision to give unrestricted entry to all devotees, both male and female, to the core area of the shrine, two women devotees visited the sanctum, offered prayers and poured oil on the deity in a culmination of the three month-long agitation against gender bias at religious places.

Later the devotees were joined by Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai, who had led a sustained campaign on the issue. Significantly, removal of the gender barrier came on the auspicious occasion of “Gudi Padwa.” Welcoming the decision, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “Discrimination on the basis of caste and gender should be eliminated in keeping with the modern times.”

Earlier in the day, around 250 men jumped barricades and forced their entry into the sanctum, saying it had been a long tradition for the devotees to offer worship at the shrine on the Gudi Padwa day. Sayaram Bankar, a trustee of the temple, said a meeting of the trustees decided to facilitate unrestricted entry to all devotees, including men and women, in keeping with the Bombay High Court directive.

The High Court, had on April 1, held that it is women’s fundamental right to access places of worship and the government is duty-bound to protect it. The debate over the issue escalated after a woman last year tried to enter and

offer prayers at the Shani Shingnapur temple, in ‘breach’ of the age-old practice of prohibiting entry of women. The agitation for women’s entry gained momentum over the last few months, even as the temple authorities barred men also from entering the sanctum sanctorum.

Terming the decision as a wise step, Desai told PTI “Der se aye lekin durusta aye” (It was belated but a correct decision),” she said and hoped that trustees at Trimbakeshwar and Mahalaxmi temples in Nashik and Kolhapur respectively, too, would take a similar step to end injustice against women devotees.  Main input:

( To view our epaper please Tap here . For all the latest News, Mumbai, Entertainment, Cricket, Business and Featured News updates, visit Free Press Journal. Also, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and do like our Facebook page for continuous updates on the go)

(To view our epaper please Read Now. For all the latest News, Mumbai, Entertainment, Cricket, Business and Featured News updates, visit Free Press Journal. Also, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and do like our Facebook page for continuous updates on the go)

Advertisement