Around 150 women representing the Bhumata Brigade left on Monday for the famous Trimbakeshwar temple in Nashik district in Maharashtra, India, seeking to end a ban on female devotees entering the inner sanctum of the Lord Shiva shrine. On January 26, the Bhumata Brigade attempted to breach a similar ban at the Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahamednagar district but were blocked by authorities. Citing the occasion of Maha Shivrati, a Hindu festival celebrating the God Shiva, and the eve of International Women’s Day, Trupti Desai, leader of the Bhumata Brigade, has urged authorities to not obstruct her and other protesters from entering the inner sanctum of the Trimbakeshwar temple. Desai says the group “will try to enter the sanctum in a peaceful manner,” but that she hopes police will lead them into the sanctum in order to avoid potential confrontations and legal complications. Right-wing organizations including Mahila Dakshata Samiti, Sharada Mahila mandal, and Purohit Sangh say they intend to stop the activists before they reach the temple.
According to Kailas Ghule, member of the Trimbakeshwar Temple Trust, the bar on entry of women into the inner sanctum is an ancient tradition. Men, he says, must wear specific clothing called sovala and are not allowed in the area between 6-7 AM on all days. Seeking to lend scientific credence to the tradition, some priests in the temple town said that the sanctum concentrates certain rays that could be harmful to women’s health.
Read the full story at The Indian Express.