Shani Shingnapur temple lifts ban on women’s entry

Temple trustees decide to facilitate unrestricted entry following High Court directive; activist Trupti Desai wants Nashik, Kolhapur temples to follow suit.

Updated - November 17, 2021 04:15 am IST

Published - April 08, 2016 03:17 pm IST - 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”, New Year for people across Maharashtra.

Sayaram Bankar, a trustee of Shani Shingnapur temple, said the trustees held a meeting on Friday and decided to facilitate unrestricted entry to all devotees, including men and women, in keeping with the Bombay 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 shrine of Lord Shani.

Temple trust spokesman Haridas Gaywale said, “The trust, at the meeting, decided there will not be any discrimination and today all parts of Shani temple are open for all.”

On April 1, the High Court 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, in 2015, tried to enter and offer prayers at the Shani Shingnapur temple, in ‘breach’ of the age-old practice of prohibiting entry of women.

The agitation for women’s entry gained momentum over the last few months, even as the temple authorities barred men also from entering the sanctum sanctorum.

Ms. 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 told PTI.

Ms. Desai said she and her group of activists would leave for Shani Shingnapur soon to offer prayers at the temple.

She hoped that the trustees at the Trimbakeshwar and Mahalaxmi temples in Nashik and Kolhapur 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 and offered prayers to the deity on the occasion of ’Gudi Padwa’, even as the temple officials tried to prevent them.

The trust members objected to their entry. resulting in tension, following which police rushed to the spot.

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