Shani temple restrictions: Women urge CM to intervene

Pune, Jan 27 (IANS) A women’s organisation challenging a centuries old ban on women devotees entering the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar on Wednesday urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to intervene to help lift the restriction.

Trupti Desai, president of the Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, and other women met Fadnavis here on Wednesday evening and submitted a memorandum of demands seeking free entry of women at the temple and ending similar gender bias in other places of worship in the state.

Though Fadnavis on Tuesday had tweeted his desire for a dialogue between the temple management and women’s organisations, he refused to comment on the meeting or the memorandum submitted by Desai.

Desai said Fadnavis responded “favourably” to the demands and she suggested he should visit the temple with his wife as a token of his support.

The meeting came a day after nearly 1,500 volunteers of the BRB were stopped in Supa village, around 80 km from the temple, which they had threatened to storm and offer prayers in the open-to-sky sanctum sanctorum.

Earlier, the BRB had hired a helicopter to climb down from the sky route if they were not permitted to enter from the grond route, but the proposal was shot down by the Pune collector on Monday night.

After detention at Supa, the activists were allowed to return to Pune after giving an assurance to police that they would not attempt to climb on the sancturm sanctorum.

Meanwhile, the Hindu Janjagruti Samiti urged the state government to remain alert to prevent incidents which seek to create a blot on religious traditions at places like Shani Shingnapur, said its state organiser Sunil Ghanvat.

Referring to Tuesday’s incident, Ghanvat said it was the concerted efforts of the HJS, Akhil Bharatiya Maratha Seva Sangh, Shri Shivpratishthan, Varakari Sect, Purohit Sangh, Chhava Sanghtana, Shani Shingnapur Yuwa Manch, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Sanatan Sanstha and others which foiled the BRB’s plans to storm the temple premises.

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