Woman to head Shani Shingnapur trust

Madras court granted stay of order imposing dress code for devotees till Jan 18

Woman to head Shani Shingnapur trust

History was created at the over 500-year-old Shani Shingnapur temple town in Ahmednagar district when a 40-year-old housewife Anita Shetye assumed charge as Chairperson of the temple trust.

However, the tradition of women not being allowed in the sanctum sanctorum would continue.

Besides Shetye, another women, Vaishali Lande, got into the 11-member trust. Shetye, soon after being elected as the Chairperson of the  Shri Shanaishwar Devasthan Shani Shingnapur-Newasa, said: “There are no plans to allow women to go at the chauthara (the temple platform)…the tradition will continue.”

“It is an ancient tradition that women are debarred from climbing up the temple steps to pour oil and offer prayers to Lord Shanidev. There’s no reason for us to change traditions and there should not be any controversy over the issue,” a senior trustee member said.
On November 28, 2015, a woman broke the nearly five-century old tradition and climbed near the idol of the world-famous Shani Shingnapur temple. The woman was captured on CCTV of the temple complex, while passing through the security barricade to the chauthara or platform where the idol was installed.

Breaking traditions
However, CCTV footage suggests that there was no attempt to stop her by anyone, either from the temple staff or the devotees.

In December, four women from the Bhumata Brigade of Pune had attempted to breach the security cordon around the inner sanctum, but were barred by security personnel. Plans of holding a massive rally of 400 women activists to storm the temple premises on Republic Day this month against the gender discrimination are on. The shrine at Shani Shingnapur consists of a five-and-half-foot-high black rock installed on an open-air platform, which symbolises the god Shani.

A Trishul (trident) is placed along the side of the image and a Nandi (bull) image is on the south side. In front are the small images of Shiva and Hanuman.

 On a day 10,000 to 40,000 people visit here, but on Saturdays and special occasions more than 1.5 lakh people visit the temple. On an average, 2,000 litres of mustard oil is offered in the temple and it goes up again on Saturdays.

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