After a failed attempt at Shani Shingnapur in Ahmednagar district, Pune-based women’s group Bhumata Brigade has now decided to storm the famous Tryambakeshwar Temple in Nashik on the occasion of Mahashivratri festival on March 7.
While the Tryambakeshwar temple trust has written to the Bhumata Brigade not to commit any act against the age-old traditions at the temple and to the police and local administration for stopping the Bhumata Brigade, some Hindutva groups have vowed to prevent the women’s group from entering the temple.
Trupti Desai, who heads the Bhumata Brigade, said, “We are not against Hindu traditions. But we would continue to oppose wrong traditions. We want gender equality. The Constitution gives equal rights to men and women. Then why are such practices of not allowing entry to women still followed?”
“About 200 women would reach Nashik by 2 pm on March 7 and agitate against the wrong practice by entering the temple. We would be informing the police about it. Instead of preventing us from entering temple, the Hindutva groups should also work for women empowerment and issues like farmer suicides,” Desai said.
A press release issued by Hindu Janjagruti Samiti stated that all devout Hindu groups would prevent the Bhumata Brigade from entering the Tryambakeshwar temple. “Every temple has its own different traditions. Similarly, the Shri Tryambakeshwar Temple, which is one of the 12 Jyotirlinga of Bharat, only half-naked men wearing solave (a clean, washed, silk or cotton dhoti to be worn during worship) are allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. This tradition is hundreds of years old. It was respectfully followed by many female VIPs, including ex-President Pratibha Patil, ex-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, chief minister of Rajasthan Vasundhararaje Sindhia etc,” the release said.
It also mentioned that 1,200 local women in the town have submitted a petition to the local administration for preventing the breaking of the tradition in the temple. “On the day of Mahashivratri, lakhs of devotees visit Tryambakeshwar. There is every likelihood of an undesirable incident and a law and order problem due to the agitation by Bhumata Brigade. In such a case, the entire responsibility will rest on the administration,” the release said.
Kailas Ghule, a temple trustee, called Bhumata Brigade’s agitation as a publicity stunt. “We have written to the Bhumata Brigade that women are not allowed to enter the Tryambakeshwar temple traditionally. We believe these traditions do have some scientific base. Noted scientists like R N Shukla have done studies on it. It is not about gender inequality as women are allowed in most of the Hindu temples. I spoke to my mother, who is also a woman, and she has no problem with the tradition followed at Tryambakeshwar temple … The very purpose of our trust is to protect the traditions at the temple. So we are against the stand taken by Bhumata Brigade. We have written to the police for taking action against the Bhumata Brigade.”
It may be recalled that the Ahmednagar police had foiled the plan of Bhumata Brigade to enter the platform of Shani Shingnapur temple on January 26. The women’s group had later met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, but no decision was taken by the CM on the issue.