Ancient Temple Shani Shingnapur’s authorities broke their almost 400-year-old tradition that Women cannot enter the inner area of the temple. Now Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust is allowing Women to enter the temple’s inner Sanctum for prayers or worship. On the auspicious day of Gudi which is a New Year for Maharashtra People, Shani Shingnapur temple lifted all gender barriers for entrance to the core temple area.
Bhumata Brigade leader Trupti Desai along with a group of women entered and prayed inside inner sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur temple for the first time in 400 years. On 8th April 2016, about 250 residents of Shingnapur village jammed the temple premises and rushed into the inner sanctum breaking through the double barricades put up by the trustees around the sanctum, to offer ‘Jal Pooja’ on the occasion of Gudi Padwa. Shortly thereafter, the temple authorities announced the decision of allowing women into the inner sanctum.
“We will welcome Trupti Desai also if she comes for darshan,” Sayaram Bankar, a trustee of Shani Shingnapur temple said, referring to the campaign spearheaded by the outfit for breaking the tradition followed by the Lord Shanidev shrine.
Temple trust spokesman Haridas Gaywale also said, “The trust has at the meeting decided there will not be any discrimination and today all parts of Shani temple are open for all.”
Trupti Desai hoped that trustees at Trimbakeshwar and Mahalaxmi temples in Nashik and Kolhapur respectively, too would take similar decision to end injustice against women devotees.
She said, “If a single man enters the sanctum other than pujari, the court orders have to be followed, everyone has to follow the order. The day has come today (when) we will enter the ‘shani’ platform. This is our victory. It was our will power that we will enter the core area…you all must have been seen women activists were manhandled. Despite the odds women came forward with all preparations and might. This is victory of Bhumata Brigade, of our movement. It is also victory of gender equality.”
The debate over the issue escalated after a woman last year 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 force over the last few months, even as the temple authorities had later banded men also from entering the sanctum sanctorum.
The Shani Shingnapur temple had bended women for centuries from the inner sanctum that is dedicated to Shani.
The Bombay High Court had observed that women should have equal access to places of worship. “There is no law, which prevents women for having equal access from entering a temple. If men are allowed then women should also be allowed,” the court had said.