Few days back, Indian women marched to a temple demanding their right to pray which is traditionally open only to men.
The group want to end the “humiliating” practice of barring women from the main shrine at Shani Shingnapur.
The Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmadnagar (Maharashtra, India) is dedicated to Lord Shani, believed to be a personification of the planet Saturn.
The women sat in protest and said that they will not budge until they are allowed to continue their journey to the temple.
The activists were protesting against a 400-year-old tradition banning women from entering the temple’s sacred platform.
“We were marching peacefully. This is a black day for women. They are stopping women from exercising their right,” said Trupti Desai, president of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, who led the protests.
“We are determined to end the distasteful practice on Republic Day,” Trupti Desai, told an Indian newspaper.
The campaign has gathered traction in media and on social media, with many people using the hashtags #RightToWorship and #RightToPray to support these women.
After a lot of outrage against this discrimination, Devendra Fadnavis favoured a dialogue between authorities of Shani Shingnapur temple and activists to find a way out for the entry of female devotees into the inner sanctum of the shrine.
Maintaining that women have right to pray, Fadnavis tweeted “Indian culture and Hindu religion gives women have the right to pray. A change in yesterday’s traditions is our culture. Discrimination in praying is not in our culture. The temple authorities should resolve the issue through a dialogue.”
Minister of State for Home, Ram Shinde stated that “If there is a dispute between activists and temple authorities over allowing women access to the (Shani Shingnapur) temple, the state government will act as facilitator for talks between them so that the issue can be resolved amicably.”
“The activists (members of Bhumata Brigade) were detained as they had violated the law. CrPC Section 144 had been imposed by police (banning assembly of people) which they did not adhere to.”
“As far as their religious views are concerned, it is the government’s duty to ensure that the issue is resolved,” he said.
It was reported that the protesters wanted access to pray in its inner sanctum, but were stopped in a village 70km (43 miles) from their destination.
Reports stated that about 600 police were deployed in the area. The women were denied permission to hire a helicopter.
“This is brazen violation of the constitutional rights of women…We want to know from Chief Minister (Devendra Fadnavis) why we have been stopped. We will move ahead,” Desai asserted.
She urged the “young” chief minister to step in and take urgent measures to curb attempts and social mechanisms to suppress women’s voice and their empowerment.
While the temple priests and residents nearby had opposed the move, and had said they would form a human chain around the temple to prevent the women from entering.
Not to forget, this is the third place of worship which came under the controversy for discrimination charges against the women.
Earlier in January this year, the Supreme Court had asked the Travancore Devaswom Board, which manages the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Kerala, to clarify why it prohibited women from entering the shrine, saying this breached the nation’s constitution.
Following this, the Bombay High Court had said it will wait for the SC’s Sabarimala ruling before deciding on a similar plea relating to the Haji Ali Dargah. The case relates to a Mumbai-based group having challenged the ban imposed on women from entering the shrine, claiming gender discrimination.
Many voices raised in favour and against of these issues, and the faith left and lies only in the law. Having the concern against gender discrimination, even the awareness generated among the masses for gender equality now look indeterminate and lose its keynote here.
We all know and everybody will accept that every man takes birth from a woman only. If there was “No Woman” in the world, it would have been a “No Man’s World”.
I read. I write. A threat to humor, if one liners could kill. Twitter: @profylayush
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