A group of women devotees was allegedly assaulted and denied entry inside the inner sanctum of the Trimbakeshwar temple on Wednesday by local residents of Trimbak in Maharashtra’s Nashik district.
The Trimbakeshwar Devasthan Trust had decided last week to allow women into the Lord Shiva temple’s sanctum sanctorum for an hour every day, but with a rider that they must wear wet cotton or silk clothes while offering prayers in the core area.
The temple trust took the decision following an agitation by Pune-based Swarajya Mahila Sanghatana, headed by Vanita Gutte. The women activists, however, had refused to follow the conditions.
Members of the Sanghatana alleged that when they reached the temple early on Wednesday, they were asked by officials of the temple trust to come in wet cotton cloths.
“When we returned to the temple after having a bath, we were told that the time to enter the inner sanctum is now over. When we resisted, the local residents assaulted us right in front of the god,” a woman devotee said.
The police have booked some 150 persons for assaulting the women seeking entry inside the “garbha griha”.
This the second time Sanghatana activists have tried to enter the temple’s inner sanctum. Last Thursday, Gutte and fellow campaigners refused to enter the core area of the temple on Thursday morning wearing wet clothes and got into an argument with several local priests over the rule.
The women then lodged a complaint with police against the trust members and local people for purposely obstructing their entry into the temple.
Based on a complaint by Gutte, police filed complaints against nearly 250 people, including members of the temple trust, some local priests and temple workers, under relevant sections.
Activist Vidya Bal said the temple trust has violated the Bombay high court order by not allowing women inside the sanctum sanctorum.
“It’s high time government intervenes in this matter and ensure women seeking entry at religious places are allowed to go.”
On March 30, the HC while hearing a petition filed by Bal and Neelima Vartak had ruled that entering a temple is a fundamental right of women and that government is duty bound to protect this right.
While the Shani Shingnapur temple trust, after initial resistance, had allowed women to enter the temple, the Trimbakeshwar trust had said women will be allowed at the inner sanctum only between 6am to 7am.
Temple priest and residents, however, have opposed this decision.
The ancient temple, located 30 km from Nashik, is a major Lord Shiva shrine of the country, which has one of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’, drawing devotees from far and wide.
(With PTI inputs)