Did the Shani Shingnapur temple plan its watershed moment?

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Pune
  • Updated: Apr 09, 2016 12:08 IST
Women entered the sanctum sanctorum of the Shani Shingnapur temple and offer prayers in a move that broke all gender scripted. (PTI Photo)

The event leading up to Friday’s landmark breaking of gender barriers were scripted, according to sources in the temple trust who said the storming of the sanctum sanctorum by men was planned to ostensibly legitimise the decision to let women in hours later.

According to sources, the trust had decided in a meeting held two days back that Gudi Padwa will be a good occasion to reverse its decision of preventing women inside the temple. However, letting it happen meekly especially after the Bombay high court order would have meant a loss of face for the trust, which had barred women from climbing the platform citing century-old tradition.

Read | A historic day for India’s women: Desai speaks on Shani temple triumph

The high court on March 30 ruled that entering temple is a fundamental right of women and that the government is duty bound to protect this right. The judgment put temple trust in a bind especially when the Maharashtra government too made it clear that it will follow the court ruling.

Read: Religion never discriminates against gender: Fadnavis on Shani Temple

“I am happy that women will finally be allowed to enter inside the temple. However it pains me to see when we tried to seek entry by legitimate ways, the trust did not accept our demands,” said prominent feminist Vidya Bal, who was also the petitioner in high court demanding equal rights to women.

Read: After Shani temple, others under pressure to open sanctum doors to women

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