Shani Shing­na­pur Tem­ple Opens Its Gates to Women

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Press Trust of In­dia

Ahmed­na­gar: Yield­ing to a high volt­age cam­paign by ac­tivists, the Shani Shing­na­pur tem­ple trust on Fri­day, al­lowed women to en­ter the sanc­tum sanc­to­rum, break­ing the tra­di­tion fol­lowed for sev­eral decades. Sig­nif­i­cantly, lift­ing of all gen­der bar­ri­ers for ac­cess to the core area came on the aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion of “Gudi Padwa”, mark­ing New Year by peo­ple across Ma­ha­rash­tra. Sa­yaram Bankar, a trustee of Shani Shing­na­pur tem­ple, said the trus­tees held a meet­ing to­day and de­cided to fa­cil­i­tate un­re­stricted en­try to all devo­tees in­clud­ing men and women, in keep­ing with the high court di­rec­tive. “We will wel­come (Bhoomata Brigade leader) Trupti De­sai also if she comes for dar­shan,” he said, re­fer­ring to the cam­paign spear­headed by the out­fit for break­ing the tra­di­tion fol­lowed by the Lord Saturn shrine. Tem­ple trust spokesman Hari­das Gay­wale also said, “The trust has at the meet­ing de­cided there will not be any dis­crim­i­na­tion and to­day all parts of Shani tem­ple are open for all.” The Bom­bay High Court, had on April 1, held that it is the women's fun­da­men­tal right to go into 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 ageold prac­tice of pro­hibit­ing en­try of women. The ag­i­ta­tion for women's en­try gained mo­men­tum over the last few months, even as the tem­ple au­thor­i­ties had later barred men also from en­ter­ing the sanc­tum sanc­to­rum. De­sai wel­comed the de­ci­sion of Shani Shing­na­pur tem­ple trus­tees to open gates of the sa­cred “Chau­thara” for men and women devo­tees, and said it was a “wise” step on their part.

“Der se aye lekin du­rusta aye” (It was late but in the end cor­rect de­ci­sion),“she said re­act­ing to the devel­op­ment that sig­nalled a vic­tory for her pro­longed fight against gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion at places of wor­ship. “We are happy that the tem­ple trus­tees have taken a wise de­ci­sion even­tu­ally,” she told PTI.

De­sai said she and her group of ac­tivists would be soon leav­ing for Shani Sing­na­pur to of­fer prayers at the tem­ple.

She hoped that trus­tees at Trim­bakesh­war and Ma­ha­laxmi tem­ples in Nashik and Kol­ha­pur re­spec­tively, too would take sim­i­lar de­ci­sion to end in­jus­tice against women devo­tees.

Ear­lier in the day, around 250 men from Shing­na­pur vil­lage en­tered the sanc­tum sanc­to­rum of the tem­ple in the vil­lage and of­fered prayers to the de­ity on the oc­ca­sion of 'Gudi Padwa', even as the tem­ple of­fi­cials tried to pre­vent them.

About 250 res­i­dents of Shing­na­pur vil­lage reached the core area of the tem­ple and had 'dar­shan' as a part of their an­nual rit­ual, po­lice in­spec­tor Prashant Man­dale of Shani Shing­na­pur told PTI.

The trust mem­bers ob­jected to their en­try re­sult­ing in ten­sion, fol­low­ing which po­lice rushed to the spot. Af­ter hail­ing the devel­op­ment, De­sai and her sup­port­ers left Pune for Shing­na­pur to of­fer prayers at the Shani tem­ple.

Women of­fer­ing prayers at Shani Shing­na­pur Tem­ple on Fri­day

PTI

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