Around 100 men on Friday forcefully made their way into the inner sanctum of the Shani temple of Shingnapur which has been at the centre of a raging fight for gender equality.
Trimbakeshwar temple authorities last week barred men from entering the inner sanctum to ensure ‘equality’ to both genders. An old tradition of the temple dictates women cannot enter the sanctum, an issue that members of the Bhumata Brigade have been protesting against.
After news of the men performing rituals to the deity spread, Trupti Desai, leader of the Bhumata Brigade, said she and fellow activists would leave for Shani Shingnapur to storm the temple too.
The Bombay high court had last week ruled that entering a temple is a fundamental right of women and that the government is duty bound to protect this right. The Shani temple trust however said they had barred men too from climbing the platform where the idol is installed.
The ancient temple, located 30km from Nashik, is a major Lord Shiva shrine of the country, which has one of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’, drawing devotees from far and wide.
According to a member of the trust, the ban goes back to the Peshwa period. The tradition however allowed men to enter the area where the main ‘linga’ is placed between 6-7am, but only after donning specific apparel called the sovala (silk clothing).