The Shani Shingnapur temple trust’s decision on Friday to allow women in the sanctum is likely to open floodgates of similar demands at other religious places.
The high court on March 30 ruled that entering a temple is a fundamental right of women and that the government is duty bound to protect this right. This judgement put temple trusts in a bind, especially after the Maharashtra government said it will follow the court’s ruling after it backed entry of women into the Haji Ali Dargah.
“There is no scope for discrimination in our culture. Our development is possible only through women’s participation,” CM Devendra Fadnavis tweeted on Friday.
Sources in the government said it was clear to the trust that it would have to relent or face the consequences, which could include the dissolution of the board.
For hundreds of years, several temples have prohibited women from entering the inner sanctum, where the deity’s idol is kept. The BJP-led state government’s stand came on the backdrop of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh proclaiming that the restriction was unfair and discriminatory at a convention in Rajasthan’s Nagaur.
Demands are now made for similar freedom at other temples. Trupti Desai of Bhumata Brigade said she will visit Kolhapur to launch an agitation seeking entry for women inside the sanctum sanctorum of Mahalaxmi temple.
“We started our crusade from Shani Shingnapur and took it further at Trimbakeshwar in Nashik and Mahalaxmi temple in Kolhapur, where women are still barred... We will be going to Kolhapur on April 13 to enter the sanctum sanctorum,” said Desai, who wrote to the Kolhapur district administration urging them to issue orders in this regard.
Trustees accepted they were under pressure to open their temples to women.