Women throng Shani temple

Women throng Shani temple

Women throng Shani temple

Hundreds of women thronged the Shani Shingnapur temple in Nevasa taluka of Ahmednagar district on Saturday after the four-century-old ban restricting women entry into the sanctum sanctorum was lifted. The temple trust allowed women to step into the core area following directives of the Bombay HC.

The Shani Shingapur village wore a festive atmosphere. From the morning, serpentine queues were seen at the temple and the crowd swelled as the day progressed.

Generally the temple of Lord Shanidev sees more devotees on Saturday and this time history was created as women were allowed at the chauthara or the core area.

The Trupti Desai-led Bhumata Rangranai Brigade (BRB), spearheading a crusade against gender bias in temples in Maharashtra and has seen several protests in the past.

On Friday, two activists from BRB’s parallel group — Pushpa Kevadkar and Priyanka Jagtap—ascended up the “chauthara” on the auspicious occasion of “Gudi Padwa”, the Maharashtrian new year day, and garlanded the five and a half feet high black rock  symbolising Lord Shani. They also poured oil on the presiding deity. Later in the day, Desai too visited the Shani temple and poured oil on the deity.

The  Shri Shaneshwar Devasthan Trust’s decision has been hailed by the women activists across the country. “If we have to progress in this 21st century then it is important that we remove this concept of discrimination of caste and gender from the minds of the people completely,” Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis said.
Friday’s development is a culmination of a spirited campaign against gender bias in temples by the BRB activists, effective intervention by the Bombay High Court and the undertaking given by the Maharashtra government that it will scrupulously implement the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act 1956 which prescribes six months’ imprisonment to those prohibiting anyone from entering the place of worship.  

“The state government shall take all necessary steps to implement the Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956.... Ultimately it is the fundamental right of a woman and your fundamental duty to protect this right,” Chief Justice D H Waghela had said.

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