Shani Shingnapur mandir: 400 years on, no temple for women

Several women activists, a large number of them housewives and students led by the Bhumata Ranragini Brigade were detained at Supa, 70 km from the Shani Shingnapur temple.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Updated: January 27, 2016 3:45 pm
Shani temple, Shani temple row, Shani temple controversy, Shani Shingnapur mandir, Shani Shingnapur temple, Shani Shingnapur, Shani Shingnapur temple maharashtra, Republic Day, Maharashtra, Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, Shani Shingnapur temple Ahmednagar, Shani Shingnapur temple news, india news Last month, after a woman – apparently in ignorance-stepped onto to the unlocked platform, a purification process was performed by villagers.

In a state as progressive as Maharashtra, regressive mindsets won hands down on Republic Day – a day when the government had enough opportunity to uphold the mandate of the majority.

What should have been a simple act of worship, turned into an avoidable drama watched by the nation live on television as the Ahmednagar police, bowing to political pressure, suppressed an agitation by women to enter the sanctum of a temple-women are not allowed to enter the core shrine area.

READ | Maharashtra: Shani temple march foiled, detained women say ‘black day for democracy’

Several women activists, a large number of them housewives and students led by the Bhumata Ranragini Brigade were detained at Supa, 70 km from the Shani Shingnapur temple located in the Ahmednagar district on Tuesday. They were not allowed to proceed to the temple as the police blocked their way at the behest of the Devendra Fadnavis government which did not want not to ruffle the sentiments of those against women entering the temple.

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Women, as per the 400-year old tradition, were not allowed to enter the Shani temple till 2011. However, after rationalists carried out mass awareness campaigns, women were allowed to enter the temple but were prohibited from the core shrine area.

Today, women are not permitted to climb up to the platform where the rock idol of Shani is installed. This is what angered the women activists who decided to take matters into their hands after the temple trustees refused to heed their repeated pleas.

Last month, after a woman – apparently in ignorance-stepped onto to the unlocked platform, a purification process was performed by villagers. This escalated the anger and frustration among the women activists. There is a widespread belief, especially among the younger generation, that Maharashtra should do away with such antiquated practices. It is now up to CM Fadnavis to show the way.

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  1. H
    Haradhan Mandal
    Jan 27, 2016 at 2:06 pm
    Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagr and Raja aramMohan Roy are not so much as icons as Swami Vivekananda is.
    1. अभिमन्यू यशवंत
      Jan 27, 2016 at 6:10 pm
      Bharatk it is not a tradition, it is faith that "Shani" is unmarried (bramhachari) therefore only men can go. Plus it is a religious procedure to go there with single wet cloth after bath ? Why our women should go there in such conditions in public ? We have Shani Temple in Ambernath, Thane, Maharashtra where women can go and touch the Shani IDOL in temple. If Shani is only one all over then any such temple can be visited by women. isn't it ?
      1. अभिमन्यू यशवंत
        Jan 27, 2016 at 5:08 pm
        काश्मिरात हजरत बाल आहे ही मुसलमानांची श्रध्दा आहे.... आकाशातला देव येशूचा पिता आहे आणि मेरी कुमारी असली तरी येशूची माता होती ही ख्रिश्चनांची श्रध्दा आहे. खूप बौध्द लोक्स आंबेडकरांना देव मानतात आणि भारतीय राज्य घटना त्यांनी एकट्यानेच लिहिली आहे अशी त्यांची श्रध्दा आहे.... . मग शनी बाल ब्रम्हचारी आहे ही देखील हिंदूची श्रध्दा आहे. शिंगणापूर शनी मंदिरातल्या कडक नियमा प्रमाणे आंघोळी नंतर कोणतीही एकवस्त्रा ओलेती स्त्री चार चौघात उघडपणे तिथे जाणार आहे का ? . तसंही ते मंदीर आख्यायिकेवर म्हणजे तथाकथित बुध्दीवाद्यांच्या मते अंधश्रध्देवर आधारित आहे मग श्रध्दा आणि धर्म मान्य नसलेल्यांनी तिथे जावंच कशाला ? सगळेच धार्मिक विधी पाळायचे नसतील तर धर्मच सोडा ना.... मुद्दाम केलेला सगळा हलकट पणा आहे आणि आपल्याला मूळ कारण माहित नसल्याने आपणही गप्प बसतो.
      2. A
        Apr 3, 2016 at 8:59 am
        Why cant they protest against unequal practices in other religions too? Shani temple is a private trust temple and they can have their own restrictions of entry.
        1. A
          Aditya Achar
          Jan 28, 2016 at 4:23 pm
          Take note, Men visiting Shani temple are NOT allowed beyond the barricades so where is the question of women should be allowed near the Shani Bhagwaan statue? Come on, this is total gender inequality against men :-D ..I recommend please visit the temple and see for yourself before making a big political and national issue. I have been there and we pra just outside the barricade that covers the Shani Bhagwaan statue. Both MEN and WOMEN are NOT allowed to enter beyond the barricade.
          1. I
            Jan 28, 2016 at 6:54 am
            What is purpose of entering into temple to ladies? to pray god Sani? there are lot of other Sani temples in India. They can do it there. There are hundreds of temples being abandoned, these honks can go and do prayers there. When a religion establishes a custom, respect it. Don't try to make Hinduism as joke by trying to enter in Ayyappa temple or Sani Shingnapur temple etc. What kind of gender equality you want to achieve by entering there? Understand one thing. Men are not going there to enjoy.. only to pray god Sani. hehe... All dramas to attract media also giving undue importance to this type of pseudo secular, pseudo feminist agitations. Media has to refrain themselves from giving publicity to them. Then I will see who will try to enter in that temple when no media coverage is there.
            1. A
              Aditya Gaiha
              Jan 27, 2016 at 6:37 pm
              This is a social change and requires a social movement not forced entry. Sit across the table with authorities and people who oppose and convince or be convinced (have a shastrartha - debate). The State has no role other than maintain law and order. Don't mix social change with state's intervention. Once society and the temple authorities accepts the change and afterwards if there is any law which stops the entry then we can ask legislative change, if need be...
              1. A
                Jan 27, 2016 at 2:35 pm
                Women are not allowed in mosques to read holy Koran but pressutes are absolutely ok with it
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