Idol ‘pu­ri­fied’ in tem­ple town af­ter woman breaks tra­di­tion

Lo­cals and trustees of the fa­mous tem­ple of Shani in Shing­na­pur livid fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent, res­i­dents ob­serve bandh

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - NATION - Yo­gesh Joshi

PUNE: The idol of the rul­ing de­ity, Shani, in the fa­mous Shing­na­pur town was ‘pu­ri­fied’ on Sun­day fol­low­ing protests from lo­cals af­ter a woman per­formed ‘ab­hishek’ at the tem­ple.

The res­i­dents and tem­ple trustees claimed the woman had breached the long-held tra­di­tion by per­form­ing ‘ab­hishek’ in a tem­ple were women are barred from the sanc­tum sanc­to­rum. Ac­cord­ing to cus­tom, only men are al­lowed near the idol, and that too only in wet clothes af­ter hav­ing bath.

An­other ‘ab­hishek’ was per­formed to the idol fol­low­ing protests against Satur­day’s in­ci­dent, when lo­cals ob­served a bandh for few hours. The tem­ple trust sus­pended seven of its staff for ‘lax­ity’.

Lo­cated some 330 kms north­east of Mum­bai, Shing­na­pur, also known as Shani Shing­na­pur, is a town of around 4,000 in the Ahmed­na­gar district. Devo­tees be­lieve their prayers are an­swered at the fa­mous tem­ple of Shani and this at­tracts a large num­ber of pil­grims. The town also fol­lows a tra­di­tion of homes not hav­ing doors, and boasts of ‘zero crime rate’.

The woman who reportedly came to Shing­na­pur from Pune for dar­shan, went to the plat­form, where the five-and-half feet black rock rep­re­sent­ing the de­ity of Saturn is in­stalled.

“It is a long-held tra­di­tion in our town. Women are only al­lowed a few me­ters from the idol. We have never pre­vented women devo­tees from of­fer­ing prayers, but they are not al­lowed on the plat­form,” said Sayram Bankar, a tem­ple trustee.

Jus­ti­fy­ing the act of pu­rifi­ca­tion by bathing the idol in milk, Bankar said it was done to un­dergo penance and re­spect the sen­ti­ments of the res­i­dents, who were unhappy over the way woman touched the idol with­out re­al­is­ing she was break­ing a tra­di­tion. “We have car­ried out the ab­hishek as part of penance,” he said.

Mean­while, a gram sabha was held over the in­ci­dent that saw a large num­ber of women. The gram sabha, while terming the act as an ‘in­ad­ver­tent mis­take’, unan­i­mously passed a res­o­lu­tion to ‘pu­rify’ the idol by per­form­ing ab­hishek.

Shivaji Daran­dale, an­other tem­ple trustee, said they have de­cided to re­view the se­cu­rity mea­sures at tem­ple to avoid re­oc­cur­rence of such in­ci­dents.

While Shiv Sena spokesper­son Nee­lam Gorhe said she will raise this is­sue about women be­ing dis­crim­i­nated at places of wor­ship in the win­ter ses­sion of the As­sem­bly, women from the town told lo­cal tele­vi­sion chan­nels that this was a breach of an age-old tra­di­tion.

“Ours is a peace­ful town where devo­tees throng in large num­bers and tra­di­tions are fol­lowed. What the woman did yes­ter­day was im­proper,” a woman in her six­ties told a TV chan­nel.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.