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A file photo of Shani Shingnapur.
A file photo of Shani Shingnapur.

After Bombay HC order, activist Trupti Desai heads to Shani Shingnapur

Desai urged CM Fadnavis to issue directives to local authorities to cooperate with women activists to go inside the temple

Pune: Buoyed by the Bombay high court ruling that it is the fundamental right of women to go into places of worship, over two dozen activists of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade led by Trupti Desai on Saturday left for Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district where tradition bans women from entering the shrine’s sacred platform.

Describing the high court verdict as a victory for women’s campaign against gender bias, Desai had on Friday announced that she and her followers belonging to the city-based women outfit would head to the ancient temple on Saturday itself.

Around 25 activists proceeded for the temple this morning in 2-3 small vehicles. “After the high court itself ruled in women’s favour, we are determined to reach the sacred chauthara of the temple and we are sure that police will not restrict us en route," Desai said before leaving Pune.

On being told that if a temple does not allow any person, irrespective of gender, inside the sanctum sanctorum, then this act (Maharashtra Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act 1956) and its provisions will not be of any help, Desai said, “In case of Shani Shingnapur, the temple trust used to allow men at ‘chauthara’ and only after our agitation started, they had put restrictions on males. So we should not be restricted."

Desai also urged Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to issue directives to the local administration and police to cooperate with them to go inside the temple peacefully and allow them to worship Lord Shani, whose idol is placed at the ‘chauthara’.

The shrine is dedicated to Lord Shani, who personifies the planet Saturn in Hindu belief. 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. Meanwhile, members of an action committee formed in the district to maintain the 400-year-old tradition at the temple is mulling to challenge the high court order in the Supreme Court.

“We will soon approach the apex court against the high court ruling as it is a matter of protecting the faith of devotees," said Sambhaji Dahatonde, a member of the action committee.

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