The Pashchim Maharashtra Devasthan Samiti has ‘appealed’ devotees ahead of the Navratri festival not to wear short dresses when visiting the famous Mahalaxmi temple at Kolhapur in western Maharashtra. The decision of the Samiti (committee), which oversees the affairs over 3,000 temples in Western Maharashtra, has prompted women’s rights activist Trupti Desai to warn of an agitation if there is an attempt to dictate any ‘dress code’.
Mahesh Jadhav, president of the government-appointed committee, said it has not laid down any dress code but only appealed devotees not to wear short dresses.
Speaking to agencies over phone from Kolhapur, Jadhav said, “We have received thousands of letters and e-mails from all over the country, suggesting that sanctity of the temple should be maintained (by dressing properly). Two women members of the committee also agreed with this, so we passed a resolution two days ago, appealing people to dress appropriately when visiting the Mahalaxmi temple.”
Even if someone comes to the temple in a short dress, he or she will not be denied ‘darshan’ of the deity, he said.
“We are ready to provide them a changing room to wear something appropriate,” Jadhav said.
Desai, who had agitated earlier for gaining entry for women at Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district, said she and her supporters will oppose any attempt to impose a dress code at the Mahalaxmi temple.
“Asking devotees to cover themselves completely or making saree mandatory for women is like a ‘fatwa’ (religious fiat). It will be unconstitutional and against the recent judgements of the Supreme Court (such as the ruling in the Sabarimala case),” Desai said.