THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Bhumatha Brigade leader Trupti Desai, who has virtually set off a national movement for women’s right to enter religious places, will reach Sabarimala in the second week of September for an encore of her Shani Shingnapur success at the hill shrine. Ms Desai has decided to come directly to the state after a letter she had written on July 15, seeking an appointment for a meeting with temple officials, had not elicited any response.
“Since they have not responded, I will travel to Kerala to hold talks with trustees right after Ganeshotsav,” Ms Desai told DC over phone. Devaswom Board officials, however, are unaware of Ms Desai’s letter. In fact her letter, which was combative, was addressed to no one in particular, just to ‘Sree Dharma Sastha Temple, Sabarimala, Kerala’. Bhumatha Brigade will not plunge straight into agitation mode.
“We will give the authorities 15 days time to respond to our demands,” said Ms Desai whose fierce determination had forced Shani Shingnapur Temple in Maharashtra to open its doors for women for the first time in its 200-year history. When furious locals and right-wing activists threatened to harm her, the 31-year-old Ms Desai announced that she and her brigade would swoop down into the temple in a helicopter; she even rented a copter. She was detained by the Maharashtra police, but she kept up the fight till the authorities opened the temple for women.
It was her victory in Shani Shingnapur that inspired social activists to launch a similar campaign for women’s entry in Haji Ali Dargah. “No gods have ever prohibited the entry of women, so what gives temple trustees the right to do so,” she asks. Ms Desai said she wanted to enter Sabarimala, but added that she would do so only after going through the 41-day penance. She was furious with the argument that women cannot undergo a 41-day fast as the menstrual cycle will intervene in between.
“It is foolish to consider menstruation unholy. It is a natural process, a God-given trait. All talk otherwise is just a male conspiracy to give a foul connotation to a divine bodily mechanism,” she said. Ms Desai said temple authorities would not be allowed to be arbiters of what is holy. “If the mother is unholy, then the son she gives birth too should be unholy,” Ms Desai said.