Mumbai: The women climbed the security barricade to the ‘chauthara’ (platform) where the famous Shani shrine is installed and offered prayers on Saturday at a village in Ahmednagar district, before disappearing in the crowd.
The prohibition has prompted the temple committee to suspend seven security men and the villagers to form purification rituals.
Villagers also performed a ‘dudh abhishek’ (milk purification) of the idol on Sunday and observed a ‘bandh’ in the morning to protest the incident.
However, the woman’s action has been lauded by various quarters, including women and social organisations. “She should be felicitated for doing what she did,” Congress MLA from Solapur, Praniti Shinde said.
“I will raise the issue in the Winter session of Legislature, beginning in Nagpur next month,” Ms. Praniti, daughter of former Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, said.
“We welcome the daring shown by the woman in offering prayers. The incident is revolutionary. The ‘chauthara’ should be thrown open for women,” said Ranjanan Gavande, Ahmednagar district unit president of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (committee for eradication of blind faith).
The idol of ‘Shani Devsthan’, a black rock over five feet tall, installed on a platform without a roof, sits at the heart of the Shani Shingnapur village in Ahmednagar district.
It is this temple that strengthens the local tradition of not installing doors and locks to the village houses. Once a humble affair, the temple has now grown into a large trust with extensive property and donations that run into lakhs.