The Shani Shingnapur temple trust on Friday said it will allow women into its inner sanctum to offer prayers, reported PTI. The announcement was made on the occasion of the Maharashtrian New Year known as Gudi Padwa. This comes a week after the Bombay High Court had ruled that women cannot be barred from entering the temple. Sanjay Bankar, manager of the temple's trust, told The Indian Express, “We are simply following the court’s order and are allowing women in the temple.”
Soon after the ban was lifted, women devotees entered the temple's inner sanctum and offered prayers. The Bhumata Brigade, led by activist Trupti Desai, also offered prayers later in the day. Desai has been campaigning for women's right to enter the inner sanctums of temples, including Shani Shingnapur and the Trimbakeshwar temple, for over three months.
Earlier in the day, male devotees broke through the barriers at the sanctum sanctorum inside the temple in Ahmednagar. The temple used to allow men into the inner sanctum, but it had barred everyone from going inside following the high court ruling that said it was the fundamental right of women to enter places of worship if men were also allowed in.
The temple has been mired in controversy after women activists tried to enter the inner sanctum in January. After the Bombay High Court judgment last week, the Maharashtra government said it would soon implement the ruling across the state. Under the new law, temple officials can be jailed for six months if they are caught allowing men but not women to enter the inner sanctum of any place of worship in the state.