The decision by Shani temple trust in Shingnapur allowing women to go near the deity is a major victory for crusaders from the state even as contest is out in open to claim the credit for the historic change.
While the fight against gender inequality at places of worshipping first started by Narendra Dabholkar in 2000, last year’s incident where a young woman touched the deity sparked a major outrage, bringing the issue on forefront. The young woman’s act stirred up the debate over gender equality at Shani temple, which then witnessed agitation from women activist led by Trupti Desai.
Bhumata Brigade’s Trupti Desai interacted with HT en route Shani Shingnapur where she was to enter inside the temple after the the decision by temple trust allowing women to enter the inner sanctum. Excerpts from her interview:
Your first reaction to Shani Trust’s decision.
Trupti Desai: It is a historic day for women across India. From now onward women will be allowed inside the Shani temple in Shingnapur. This brings an end to gender inequality at least at Shani Shingnapur. We have been allowed to exercise our constitutional right.
Will you be taking this crusade to other temple where women are prohibited?
Trupti Desai: Yes. We started our crusade from Shani Shingnapur and took it further at Trimbakeshwar in Nashik and Mahalaxmi temple from Kolhapur, where women are still barred. On our radar now are these two temples. We will be going to Kolhapur on April 13 to enter into sanctum sanctorum.
What provoked you to start this movement?
Trupti Desai: I am deeply spiritual person and a Shani Bhakta. So when I saw women are being prevented from going near the deity, I could not tolerate this. Hence the crusade.
There are allegations that your crusade is politically motivated. How do you react to this?
Trupti Desai: I or my organisation is not associated with any political party although I did contest civic elections in 2012 under Congress’ banner as they offered me ticket. What I am doing now is completely apolitical and my organization is committed to social cause.