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Trupti Desai offers prayers inside sanctum at Trimbakeshwar

Trupti Desai addresses press

Nashik : Gender rights activist Trupti Desai today visited the Trimbakeshwar temple and offered prayers inside the sanctum sanctorum of the popular Lord Shiva shrine here which houses one of the 12 ‘jyotirlingas’.

Desai, along with three of her colleagues took darshan of the ‘shivlinga’ in the ‘garbha gruha’ around 6 AM and left after nearly 15 minutes, said H P Kolhe, in charge of Trimbakeshwar police station.

The Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief along with her aides followed the dress code, wet cotton or silk sarees, as decided by Trimbakeshwar Devasthan Trust and stood in the queue with other devotees before entering the core worship area, he said.

Later, they left the temple town in a vehicle. Interacting with newspersons outside the temple after the ‘darshan’, Desai said their struggle for gaining entry into Shani Shingnapur in Ahmednagar and now at Trimbakeshwar temple has succeeded.

Desai vowed to take forward the struggle for entry of women into worship places across the country.

Yesterday, four activists, led by Vanita Gutte of Pune-based Swarajya Mahila Sanghatana, offered prayers inside the sacred sanctum amid police protection.

Recently, the Trimbakeshwar Devasthan Trust decided to allow women into the temple’s ‘garbha griha’ for an hour everyday with a rider that they must wear wet cotton or silk clothes while offering prayers in the core area.

The development is significant as it came days after women were permitted entry to the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.

The issue of gender bias hogged national limelight in January when hundreds of women activists attempted to storm into the Shani Shingnapur temple. After months of protests, and the Bombay High Court observing that entering a temple was a fundamental right of every person, the Shingnapur temple trust finally decided to allow women’s entry on to the sacred platform (chauthara)–on which rock idol of Lord Shani is placed– on April 8.

The decision opened doors for women to contest similar bans at other temples.

Asked as to why she chose to wear saree, contradicting her earlier posture, Desai told PTI, “It was my own decision and not taken under any pressure. The court order has stated that the devotees should wear ‘suti’ (cotton) clothes which also includes saree.”

Desai, in an apparent gesture to soothe the sentiments of the villagers who yesterday observed a bandh to ventilate their resentment over the decision of temple authorities, went inside clad in a saree to honour the tradition. This was a departure from her earlier stand that she had the right to wear Indian attire salwar kameez while entering any temple, which had resulted in a strong protest and scuffle at the Mahalaxmi temple in Kolhapur a few days back.

She said unrestricted entry for women into places of worship had come as boost for the Bhoomata Brigade’s fight against gender inequality and the crusade would now be waged at a national level.

“We shall take forward our campaign at Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai where about 50 organisations including 15 belonging to Muslims would participate to ensure entry of women,” she added.

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