Men storm into Shani Shingnapur temple after new ban on their entry

Temple authorities last week announced that both men and women would not be allowed in the inner sanctum.

Mumbai: Over 100 men stormed into the famous Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar on Friday, after the authorities barred their entry. The ban was put in place to strengthen the temple's stand against women offering prayers in the inner sanctum as activists have been accusing them of discrimination.

Last week, the temple trust added the fresh caveat to the centuries old diktat that bars the entry of women and said that even men from now on will not be allowed inside in the shrine, which is dedicated to Lord Shani, who personifies the planet Saturn in Hindu belief. But several men defied the temple’s order and forced their way into the inner sanctum on the occasion of Gudi Padwa.

Read: Women to be allowed in Shani temple, will follow HC order: Fadnavis

Women devotees are not permitted on the platform as per tradition followed at the shrine, which has no walls or a roof. A five-foot-high black stone stands on a sacred platform (prohibited area) and is worshipped as Lord Shani.

The debate over the issue of women entry into the sanctum sanctorum of temples in Maharashtra escalated last year after a woman tried to enter and offer prayers at the Shani Shingnapur temple in 'breach' of the age-old practice.

Read: PIL seeks HC order to protect women at Maharashtra’s Shani temple

This had prompted the temple committee to suspend seven security men and the villagers to perform ‘purification rituals.’

Subsequently, the Bhumata Brigade led by Trupti Desai had on January 26 this year launched a high-voltage campaign to breach the ban at the Shani temple and vowed to carry on with its movement for gender justice.

Only last week, women activists led by Desai stormed into the temple’s complex but were prevented from entering the inner sanctum by locals and temple authorities.

The activists launched a scathing attack on Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, asking him why was Bombay High Court’s order that women not be discriminated at places of worship being defied.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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