Right to pray: Shani Shingnapur temple to allow women devotees

Ahmednagar (Maharashtra): In a historic decision, the famed Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust said women will be permitted to enter and pray at the open-to-sky platform shrine here from Friday.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the trust and announced by trustee Shalini Lande.

Devotees gather at The Shani Shingnapur Temple in Ahmednagar, some 200kms east of Mumbai on April 2, 2016. Pic/AFP 

For over four centuries, women have been barred from stepping onto the high platform on which stands a black stone - symbolising Shanidev or Lord Saturn here.

The decision was welcomed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Bhumata Ranragini Brigade president Trupti Desai, who had been campaigning for months seeking women's entry.

Anita Shethe, chairman of the trust, confirmed the news and said, “Today, agitated local residents, especially men, came in the core area to worship the shrine and pour the holy water. We objected it, but neglecting our security, the men forcefully entered the core area of the shrine and worshipped it as per old rituals. We thus had meetings with our trust members, and this decision has been made.”

In November, an unidentified woman had gone to the shrine, which led to chaos. Later, Pune-based activist Trupti Desai tried to visit the shrine, on January 26, but was detained by police. Last Saturday, she once again tried to enter the shrine, but was beaten up by local residents.

A writ petition was filed in the Bombay High Court by Pune-based lawyer Nilima Vartak and activist Vidya Bal. Speaking on the issue, Desai said, “I finally won the battle. This will heal the wounds of last week.”

(With IANS inputs)

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