Mumbai: Months after women activists led by Trupti Desai of Bhumata Brigade protested, the Shani Shingnapur temple trust on Friday decided to allow women to enter into the inner sanctum of the temple in Ahmednagar district.
The Bombay High Court had last week directed Maharashtra government to take pro-active steps for ensuring compliance of law to prevent discrimination against women on entry to places of worship, saying “it is the fundamental right of a woman” and the government should protect it.
Significanly, lifting of all gender barriers for access to the core area came on the auspicious occasion of “Gudi Padwa”, marking New Year by people across Maharashtra.
Sayaram Bankar, a trustee of Shani Shingnapur temple, said the trustees held a meeting today and decided to facilitate unrestricted entry to all devotees including men and women, in keeping with the high court directive.
“We will welcome (Bhoomata Brigade leader) Trupti Desai also if she comes for darshan,” he said, referring to the campaign spearheaded by the outfit for breaking the tradition followed by the Lord Saturn 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.”
Earlier in the day, amid raging row, over 100 male forcefully entered into the inner sanctum of the temple to worship the deity. The men entered the temple to offer prayers on the occasion of Gudi Padwa.
Activist Trupti Desai will be visiting temple later in the day.
The temple drew attention in November 2015 after a lady offered prayers in “breach” of the age-old practice of prohibiting entry of women.
Last week, a criminal public interest litigation filed in the Bombay High Court sought a direction to Maharashtra government and Director General of Police to protect women who enter the Shani temple at Shingnapur .
The petition also urged the court to direct the Shaneshwar Devasthan Trust, which manages the temple at Shingnapur village, to stop obstruction of women who want to enter the sanctum sanctorum to offer prayers to God Shani.