Mumbai: Prominent women from cross-section of society in Maharashtra today hailed the lifting of curb on entry of women in the core area of Shani Shingnapur temple, terming it as a "symbol of victory" for campaign on gender equality and a significant move towards empowerment of women.
Giving in to a highly publicised campaign by activists, the Shani Shingnapur temple trust today allowed women to enter the sanctum sanctorum, breaking the tradition followed for several decades.
Welcoming the move, Amruta, wife of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, told PTI, "This change (allowing women into the core area) was extremely important and is a really satisfying development. This sends a strong signal that women, like men, deserve all the rightful benefits."
Amruta said women from different sections of society fought for the right to enter places of worship. "This is a symbol of change but the actual change will take place only when people will start changing their mindset towards women."
Vijaya Rahatkar, Chairperson of Maharashtra State Women Commission, termed the decision as "rightful move" towards gender equality. "Yes, I am very happy to know that women have started praying in the sanctum sanctorum sanctorum of the famous temple. This is a significant move in the direction of gender equality and empowerment of women."
The outcome was result of the joint effort of the judiciary and State Government who pushed for gender equality at places of worship, she said.
On remarks by Bhumata Brigade, an outfit which spearheaded the campaign for entry of women into the Shani temple, that it will take up similar agitations for other shrines, Rahatkar said, "We would do every bit to support the women's cause within the framework of the Constitution. Our Chief Minister has already talked about it."
Human rights activist and advocate Abha Singh thanked the Bombay High Court for its ruling calling for an end to gender bias at places of worship.
"The High Court instructed State Government to ensure women are not stopped (from entering the Shani temple core area). The State was bound to act otherwise it would have faced contempt of court charge."