In his­toric move, Shani tem­ple lets in women

AT SHING­NA­PUR Women ac­tivists touch idol; CM Fad­navis wel­comes de­ci­sion

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Yo­gesh Joshi yo­gesh.joshi@hin­dus­tan­times.com

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.

CON­TIN­UED ON P13

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