Temple gender row: Ravi Shankar claims to have found solution

Mediating on the issue of gender bias at Maharashtra’s Shani Shingnapur temple, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Sunday claimed to have arrived at a solution that allows both men and women to have darshan of the deity some distance away from the sacred “Chabutara” (platform).

Citing two models of facilitating darshan, practised at Kashi Vishwanath and Tirupati Balaji temples, Ravi Shankar said, “It is agreed that no one — man or woman — will step on the sacred Chabutara at the Shanti temple where oil is constantly poured as it can result in possible skidding.”

“This contentious issue has been settled. There will not be any discrimination based on gender and all will have equal right of worship,” he told a press conference at Balewadi near here.

While the temple trustees present at the meeting agreed with Ravi Shankar’s formula based on the Tirupati Balaji darshan model, Trupti Desai, who led the recent agitation of the Bhoomata Brigade seeking women’s entry into the temple’s inner sanctum, said, “If nobody is to be allowed on the Chabutara, the priests who perform pooja of the deity at the sacred platform should include women.”

Desai said if both men and women are going to be banned from stepping on the Chabutara, activists of Bhoomata Brigade should be given an opportunity to perform the “last pooja” on the sacred platform in the temple in Ahmednagar district, in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. She also said that it was wrong to disallow men to perpetuate ban on women.

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