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400 women to storm Shani Shingnapur temple

Photo shows the purification ceremony being conducted at Shanishingnapur temple. Photo: Special Arrangement.  

A massive rally of 400 women activists are set to storm the premises of the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district on Republic Day, said the Pune-based Bhumata Ranragini Brigade.

The doughty women propose to breach the prohibited shrine arena inside the Temple in their crusade against gender discrimination and in a bid to alter archaic traditions debarring women from entering or offering worship inside the inner sanctum.

“Beginning next week, we will be holding meetings with several women groups across various districts to raise awareness about our campaign. We will start in Satara. The puja will be performed on January 26 as this was the day the Indian Constitution came into force. The purpose of the rally is to reinforce the equal rights bestowed upon every man and woman in the country by the Constitution,” said Trupti Desai, president, Bhumata Brigade.

The temple’s trustees have been in the eye of the storm recently when a woman attempted to enter the sanctum where the idol of Lord Shani is installed. The ‘violation’ caused the trustees to perform ‘purification rituals’ which kicked up a surge of controversy and outraged several women groups across the State.

Last week, four women from the brigade, including Ms. Desai, had attempted to breach the stiff security cordon around the inner sanctum, but were barred by security personnel.

Why only male priests?

“If the trustees argue there is no discrimination against women at the temple premises, then why aren’t women being allowed to go into the inner sanctum? Besides, why are there only male priests and not women priests in this day and age?” argued Ms. Desai. The brigade even plans to send a memorandum to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis regarding their agitation and have expressed their willingness to take on the police.

The trustees said both men and women were not allowed to climb the shrine arena where offerings like garlands and oil were kept.

“The temple has an ancient tradition which everyone should respect and follow. If someone forcefully tries to break it, it will only hurt the sentiments of the devotees,” said Sayaram Bankar, a trustee who has urged the Brigade to reconsider their Republic Day rally.


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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 12:42:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/400-women-to-storm-shani-shingnapur-temple-on-rday/article8042112.ece

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