Ban Lifted

Lifting centuries-old ban, Shani temple opens gates to women

Shani-temple Devotees gather at The Shani Shingnapur Temple in Ahmednagar | AFP

Shani Shingnapur temple trust in Maharashtra has opened the gates of its sanctum sanctorum to women, lifting the centuries-old ban on women's entry into the holiest of holy places in the temple.

According to media reports, the decision to let women enter into the sanctum sanctorum came after a group of about 100 male devotees stormed the temple on the occasion of Gudi Padwa.

"We have decided to allow women inside the temple. We will not make any differences between men and women. Our decision has nothing to do with men storming in to the temple today," trustee of the temple Deepak Daramale was quoted as saying.

The temple had stopped allowing men as well inside the sanctum sanctorum in the wake of a Mumbai High Court ruling that said both genders should have equal access to Hindu places of worship. Only male priests were given permission to enter the inner sanctum of the temple.

For over four centuries, women have been barred from stepping onto the high platform on which stands a black stone—symbolising Shanidev or Lord Saturn.

Bhumata Brigade activist Trupti Desai, who made multiple attempts to enter the temple, welcomed decision and said, "It's a victory for women. This is a great achievement against gender inequality."

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