Less than a month after a group of women announced that they would enter the Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district on January 26 to break the tradition that prohibits women from climbing the platform on which the idol is installed, right wing outfits led by Sanatan Sanstha, Hindu Janjagruti Samiti (HJS) and its women’s wing Ranragini Shakha have decided to mobilise around 2,000 women to form a "protective circle" around the temple to prevent the former's entry on the day, The Indian Express reported.
On November 28, a woman had climbed the platform of the temple and on December 29 four more women, including a member of the Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, did the same, garnering criticism and anger from the locals. It is following these incidents, that the Bhumata Brigade announced that they would mobilise a group of 400 women and enter the temple of Republic Day to break the age-old temple tradition, the report states.
Sunil Ghanwat, an office-bearer of the HJS told IE, "As per Adhyatma Shastra (spiritual science), Lord Shani is considered as Ugra Devata. The vibrations emerging from Lord Shani have harmful effects on women… So the issue of women not being allowed to worship Lord Shani from close proximity should not be seen as gender inequality. We have a temple in Rajasthan where men are not allowed to worship. Instead of studying spiritual reasons behind Hindu traditions, organisations like Bhumata Brigade and atheist groups want to do a publicity stunt at Shani Shingnapur temple."
Trupti Desai of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade told IE that they were not committing any crime by trying to enter the temple. "We aim for gender equality. Our Constitution gives equal rights to men and women. We have purposefully chosen the Republic Day. We are not committing any crime, but still the police have issued a notice to me. It says action will be taken if we create any law and order problem at Shani Shingnapur," she said.
Local police have however said that they won’t give permission for the formation of a “protective circle” outside the temple.