Trimbakeshwar allows entry of women with rider, activists resent

Nashik: Amid the campaign for gender equality, the Trimbakeshwar Devasthan Trust in Maharashtra has decided to allow women into the famous Lord Shiva temple's sanctum sanctorum for an hour everyday, but with a rider that they must wear wet cotton or silk clothes while offering prayers in the core area.

However, the women activists have refused to abide by the condition and have lodged a complaint with police against the trust members and local people for purposely obstructing their entry into the temple. The trust took the decision at a meeting on Wednesday to allow women into the temple's 'garbha griha' sanctum sanctorum from yesterday from 6 to 7 am and with the conditions attached to it, Lalita Shinde, one of the temple trustees, said.

The decision was taken following an agitation by Pune-based Swarajya Sanghatana, headed by Vanita Gutte. However, Gutte and fellow-campaigners refused to enter the core area of the temple on Thursday morning with the condition of wearing wet clothes. However, during that time several local priests wearing 'sovala' (silk clothing) entered the sanctum sanctorum to perform the puja. In the argument between the temple authorities and the activists, the time limit of 6-7 am got over, Shinde said.

Meanwhile, based on a complaint by Gutte that they were being obstructed from entering the temple, police last night registered offences against nearly 250 people, including members of the temple trust, some local priests and temple workers, under relevant sections, Trimbakeshwar police station in-charge Haribhau Kolhe said today.

"We will have to check the footage of 45 CCTV cameras, other things to identify persons, against whom Swarajya Sanghatana chief Vanita Gutte has lodged complaint," he said. According to police, Gutte and other women activists left the holy town on Thursday.

Earlier this week, the temple authorities had gone back on their April 3 resolution wherein they decided to ban entry of men too into the core worship area at the famous Lord Shiva shrine in Nashik.

A meeting of the Trimbakeshwar Devasthan Trust held here on Sunday last cancelled its earlier resolution restricting entry of males into the sanctum sanctorum, Nivrutti Nagare, one of trustees and Chief Officer of Trimbakeshwar Municipal Council had said. The trust revoked its decision of April 3 owing to pressure from locals, Nagare said.

Continuing with the old practice, men devotees were allowed between 6-7 am into the core area where the main 'linga' is placed. They can enter this innermost part only after the 'sovala'.

The ancient temple, located 30 kms from Nashik, is a major Lord Shiva shrine of the country, which has one of the 12 'jyotirlingas', drawing devotees from far and wide.

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