Mumbai: In a ruling that challenges the age-old tradition, the Bombay High Court today paved way for women's entry in Shani Shingnapur Temple declaring that no law prevents women from entering places of worship. It further stated that there should be no gender discrimination as far as entering one is concerned.
The verdict by a division bench of Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice M.S.Sonak of Bombay High Court came in a public interest litigation filed by activists Vidya Bal and senior lawyer Nilima Varta for prohibiting of women from entering the sanctum sanatorium of the world-famous Shani Shingnapur Temple in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district.
Expressing "happiness" over the court verdict, women's activist organisation Bhumata Ranragini Brigade President Trupti Desai said she would lead a group of women to the temple on Saturday and pray at the sanctum sanatorium from where they have been barred for centuries.
For over a century, women were barred entry into the temple, until 2011. Mass awareness campaigns were carried out to bring about this change. However, women were still prohibited from the core shrine area.
Today, women are not permitted to climb up the 'chauthara' (platform) where the rock idol of Lord Shani is installed.
The issue sprung to prominence after a woman stepped onto to the unlocked platform last year to offer prayers. This was followed by a ‘purification’ process by villagers, angering women activists and several sections of the society.
The issue has stayed in news since then and has even prompted questions on similar practices at other temples as well. On January 26, around 400 women activists, who tried to head for Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district defying prohibitory orders to worship the deity, were detained about 70km from the temple and later released.
(With IANS inputs)