Women enter Trimbakeshwar temple sanctum

Marking a departure from a 500-year-old tradition, three women activists from Pune entered the sanctum sanctorum of the Trimbakeshwhar Temple near Nashik amid protests, and worshipped the deity on Thursday. Vanita Gutte, Mayuri Deshmane and Hema Jha of Swarajya Mahila Sanghathana reached the temple around 5.30 am amid tight police security and waited for the one-hour window from 6 am, when devotees are allowed into the temple.
The temple trust had recently decided to allow women into the “garbha griha“ for an hour every day , provided they followed the dress code--wearing wet cotton or silk clothes. The decision was made after the Bombay high court held in March that entry to temples was a fundamental right of women. On Thursday , the Trimba keshwar temple trustees allowed the three activists--Vanita Gutte, Mayuri Deshmade and Hema Jha -to enter the sanctum, while other worshippers, cleaners and priests also helped them.
Gutte and her supporters were then driven in private vehicles to Nashik, 30 km from Tribakeshwar, with police vans escorting them. “About 50 senior police officers ensured the activists' security ,“ ASP Prashant Mohite said.
However, a section of residents called a bandh opposing the women's entry into the sanctum. All shops and kiosks around the temple remained closed. “We are deeply hurt and ashamed that we could not preserve the temple's tradition,“ said Sunil Lohgaonkar, a local resident. On Wednesday , the three women had filed an FIR, accusing 200 people, including four former mayors of Trimbakeshwar, of attacking them during their attempt to enter the core area of the shrine.
“This is a victory of the Indian Constitution which gives equal rights to men and women at all places of worship. We fought a prolonged battle. At times, they manhandled and abused us. But finally , the law prevailed,“ Gutte said, as she walked out of the temple. She hoped all women devotees would now get access to the temple's core areas on the lines of Shani Shingnapur and Mahalaxmi temples.

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