Women activists slammed the tradition of prohibiting entry to the fairer sex at a famous Shani shrine in Ahmednagar district and the “purification rituals” which were performed by villagers after a woman recently entered there.
On Saturday, the age-old practice of prohibiting women from offering prayers at the shrine located in Shani Shingnapur village was “breached” when a woman climbed the security barricade to the ‘chauthara’ (platform) where the idol is installed and offered prayers, before disappearing in the crowd.
Yesterday, the villagers had performed a ‘dudh abhishek’ (milk purification) of the idol and observed a ‘bandh’ in the morning to protest the incident. Startled, the temple committee also swung into action today and suspended seven security personnel.
Terming the incident as “ridiculous”, Maharashtra’s former Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Chandra Iyengar said, “God has created everyone equal and who are we to force anyone to follow specific process of offering devotion or faith. At least God never said so that a woman, even if she is menstruating, cannot enter a temple.”
She said that since religious faith of a person is a specific and a crucial issue, hence government cannot interfere in such cases as it has to follow the law of the land (administration of the religious places).
However, if these rules are made by human beings only, then it is time to rethink them, the former bureaucrat said.
“It is my firm belief that God has not provisioned such discrimination…we should not forget that there are ample number of women who also support such belief (of prohibiting women from entering temples),” she said.
Notably, a huge controversy had broken out in 2006 after Kannada actress Jayamala claimed to have entered the Sabarimala temple in Kerala during her prime and touched the idol of the presiding deity, claiming that she was pushed into the sanctum sanctorum by the surging crowd.