Anita Shetye, a 40-year-old homemaker, has been appointed as the first woman chairperson of Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust in Ahmednagar district, which was in the news recently for disallowing women from breaking the tradition of climbing up the temple platform to offer prayers.
Soon after her appointment, Shetye told reporters that she will continue to enforce that tradition and there was no plan to allow women on the ‘chauthara’ (temple platform). Women devotees are not allowed to pour oil on the idol at this temple, dedicated to Shani, the personification of planet Saturn.
Shetye has become the first woman in the temple’s over five-century-old history to don the mantle of temple trust chief and will get a five-year term.
The other 11 trustees also include a woman, Vaishali Lande. Shetye’s appointment comes in the backdrop of four women from Pune deciding to galvanise a force of 400 and storm the temple premises to break the age-old tradition which prevents women from offering worship to Lord Shani from close quarters.
The Shani Shinganapur temple was in news last year when villagers allegedly performed a purification ritual at the temple after a woman devotee entered the prohibited area.