Saturday, April 9, 2016

Indian temple authorities allow women worshipers, ending centuries-old tradition

Authorities at a Hindu shrine in India's western state of Maharashtra on Friday allowed female worshipers to enter the inner sanctum of the temple.

With this the 400-year old ban on women at Shani Shingnapur in Ahmadnagar district of Maharashtra has come to an end.

This decision was taken following prolonged protests by women activists demanding entry inside the temple and Bombay High Court's direction stating women have fundamental right to enter temples.

The temple until now was open only to men.

Reports said activists of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade (Women Warriors of Mother Earth) led by Trupti Desai entered holy platform at Shani Shinganapur without any opposition.

Last week the activists were barred by villagers and people belonging to temple committee after court directed the local government to ensure women were allowed to enter and pray inside the temple.

"Trustees held a meeting and decided to facilitate unrestricted entry to all devotees, including men and women, in keeping with the Bombay High Court directive," an official said.

The court's order came in a public interest litigation filed by Desai to challenge the "gender inequality" in temples.

Desai's group fighting for their "right to pray" has been trying to "break into" temples to protest what they describe gender discrimination at places of worship.

The move gathered momentum in 2015, after a woman entered the temple and offered prayers in breach of the years-old practice of prohibiting entry of women. The temple committee later suspended seven security men for the breach and gathered the villagers to perform purification rituals.

Earlier this year, hundreds of women in the state led by Desai were stopped by police from marching to a temple in a bid to end gender discrimination at places of worship.

Several temples in India have put restrictions on the entry of women.
 [Xinhua -]

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