More than 1000 women plan to storm the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district on Republic Day and end the age-old “humiliating” practice of not allowing women to enter the core shrine area.
Local police is gearing up to impose prohibitory orders in the temple area and also plan to carry out preventive arrests, reports The Indian Express.
Bhumata Ranragini Brigade is leading the proposed march of about 1,500 women and is reportedly planning to troop into the Shani Shingnapur around 1 pm.
“Soon after we will enter the temple area and then climb the platform where the Shani idol has been installed,” Trupti Desai, Bhumata Brigade president, told The Indian Express.
"If need be, we will enter from the sky route even via a helicopter — when its sanctum sanctorum opens on Tuesday", said an activist.
"We have already booked a helicopter and if we are not permitted to enter from the open ground, we shall drop ladders from the chopper and climb down. We are not scared of any security since women's rights are concerned," an aggressive Trupti Desai, president of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade told IANS.
She said around 1,500 women from all over Maharashtra shall troop down to the temple on Tuesday morning and offer prayers at the temple which is dedicated to Lord Shani and where women devotees are not permitted.
The unique open temple has no walls or roof. A self-emerged five-foot-high black stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shanidev.
The temple platform stands in the centre of the small village, also known as Sonai and attracts millions of tourists and devotees from across the country and abroad.
However, barring the temple priests, none is permitted to climb the nine steps up to the actual stone idol that represents the deity. Everybody must only offer prayers from below the platform, said a temple trustee Prafull N Surpuriya.
Shani Shingnapur is known as the only village where houses do not have doors and locks, and the village remains theft-free.
Even the nationalised UCO Bank's branch in the village does not have locks on its doors.
Belief has it that thieves cannot steal or burgle in the village which is protected by Lord Shani, and misfortune and divine punishment would befall anyone who attempts to steal.
With inputs from IANS