RIGHT TO WORSHIP

Court gave its order; Will women be allowed to enter Shani Shinganapur temple now?

PTI1_26_2016_000472B At least 400 women volunteers led by Desai had made an attempt to storm the chauthara of the Shani temple on January 26, but were stopped by police and local people | PTI

A day after Bombay High Court gave its landmark verdict on women's entry in places of worship, a group of women activists led by Trupti Desai will take out a march to the Shani Shinganapur temple in Maharashtra on Saturday.

The high court had on Friday ruled that entering temple is the fundamental right of women and that the government is duty-bound to protect their right. The court order came on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by activists Vidya Bal and senior lawyer Nilima Varta challenging the age-old tradition of prohibiting the entry of women inside the the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur temple.

"I don't think anyone will stop us today (Saturday), Court has already given its order. This is a victory for us,” Desai, leader of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, was quoted as saying by the ANI. “If anyone stops us today we will file an FIR against them,” she said.

Desai also urged Chief Minister Devendra Fadanvis 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.

Meanwhile, members of an action committee formed in Ahmednagar district to maintain the 400-year-old tradition at the temple is mulling to challenge the HC order in the Supreme Court.

At least 400 women volunteers led by Desai had made an attempt to storm the chauthara of the Shani temple on January 26, but were stopped by police and local people.

No law prevents women from entering places of worship and there should be no gender discrimination as far as entering one is concerned, the high court said in its order on Friday. The court order came amid a raging nation-wide debate over alleged sexual discrimination in places of worship like Shani temple and Sabarimala temple in Kerala.

The Supreme Court had earlier questioned the centuries old ban on women in Sabarimala temple saying the Vedas and the Upanishads do not discriminate between men and women. According to the tradition of this Lord Ayyappa temple in Pathanamthitta district of the state, women aged between 10 and 50 are not allowed to enter the shrine.

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