After 400 yrs, women enter hallowed inner precincts of Shani temple
Soon after the temple trust announced the decision to facilitate unrestricted entry to all devotees to the core area of the shrine in Western Maharashtra, some women devotees entered the sacred spot and offered worship.
Hours after the decision was announced, Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai, who had led a sustained campaign over the issue, reached the Lord Saturn temple in Ahmednagar district and offered prayers.
Before Desai reached the spot, two women activists, who earlier broke away from Bhumata Brigade, entered the sanctum sanctorum and offered prayers, pouring oil on the deity in a culmination of the three month-long agitation against gender bias at religious places.
Significantly, removal of the gender barrier came on the auspicious occasion of “Gudi Padwa”, marking New Year by people across Maharashtra.
Welcoming the decision, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “discrimination on the basis of caste and gender should be eliminated from the minds of the people keeping with the modern times.”
Earlier in the day, around 250 men jumped barricades and forced their entry into the platform, saying it had been a long tradition for the devotees to offer worship at the shrine on the Gudi Padwa day.
Sayaram Bankar, a trustee of the temple, said a meeting of the trustees decided to facilitate unrestricted entry to all devotees, including men and women, in keeping with the Bombay High Court directive.