In historic move, Shani temple lets in women
AT SHINGNAPUR Women activists touch idol; CM Fadnavis welcomes decision
After a long crusade by women activists demanding entry to the inner sanctum of the Shani temple in Shingnapur, the temple trust finally granted women devotees passage on Friday.
This will be the first time in 60 years that women will be allowed to enter the ‘garbhagriha’ after a decades-long tradition barred them from entering it, and conditionally restricted men too.
“We have decided to allow women devotees on the platform,” said Sayaram Bankar, a temple trustee. The decision was taken after 11 members of the trust met to discuss the issue on Friday morning, Bankar said.
Before the women were allowed, around 100 men forced their way into the inner sanctum of the temple to perform abhishek to mark Gudi Padwa in the afternoon.
Women activists, led by Trupti Desai, welcomed the decision which follows a Bombay high court order from last week that ruled it was a woman’s fundamental right to enter a temple.
“This is a big day for women today. We have managed to break a century-old regressive tradition which had prevented the women from entering the temple,” said Desai.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the decision and said his government had filed
an affidavit in the high court making its stand clear that it does not discriminate between men and women for worshipping any deity and “we believe in equal rights to both the genders and the court has also acknowledged our stand”.
“If we have to progress in the 21st century, then it is important that we remove this concept of discrimination of caste and gender from the minds of the people completely,” said Fadnavis.
The fight against gender inequality at places of worship in Maharashtra was started in 2000 by Narendra Dabholkar, who was assassinated in 2013 allegedly by those opposed to his rationalist ideology.
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