India

Women demand entry inside Nashik’s Trimbakeshwar temple; trustee says it might harm their health

Echoing the sentiment, Poonam said, “Women have proved their mettle in all fields. They have the same emotion when they worship and pray. They have equal rights in other fields. Such traditions and norms should be done away with.”

Even as the issue of prohibition on women’s entry in the Shani Shingnapurshrine gathers steam, two women have sent an application to the trust of famousTrimbakeshwar temple in Nashik, urging the authorities to allow the entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum. Trimbakeshwra is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas across the country.

Sujata Patil (55) and her daughter-in-law Poonam (32) have written to the chairman of the Trimbakeshwar temple trust, asking to lift the prohibition on entry of women in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple. According to the tradition, only men can enter the place where the linga has been kept, that too wearing specified clothes called sovala.

“There is no clarity as to who set these traditions. They are being followed blindly generation after generation. We need to change with times. When other traditions in this temple town have changed, why stick to the one that differentiates between men and women. God does not create any difference, they are all man made,” said Sujata.

Echoing the sentiment, Poonam said, “Women have proved their mettle in all fields. They have the same emotion when they worship and pray. They have equal rights in other fields. Such traditions and norms should be done away with.”

The two women also pointed out the fact that there is a place for Goddess Parvati inside the sanctum sanctorum, who is the female form of strength. If a goddess already adorns the place, then why stop other women, they rued.

The letter has been submitted to the trust office in Trimbakeshwar. When contacted, trust board chairman Urmila Joshi Phalke said she has not yet seen the application. “We will have to study the matter, customs, opinions, demands and then the trust board will decide accordingly. Till then, it will be inappropriate to comment,” she said.

Temple trustee Kailas Ghule said the trust never banned the entry of women, and the custom has been followed for hundreds of years. “This tradition has not been set in the recent past. It is being followed for ages. This issue needs to be inspected scientifically. If it turns out that there is no harm, particularly to the physical or mental health of the women, it can be considered. Women are revered as mother goddess and the source of strength. But matters of tradition have to be taken into consideration,” he said.

He added Ghule that though he is not an expert in the subject, according to some research, certain rays concentrate in the area that might be harmful for women. Some purohits in the town even said that the demand has been backed by only a few women, and most of them don’t even want to go inside.

A purohit, requesting anonymity, said “Why only women, even men must be banned from entering inside the sanctum sanctorum, as the number of devotees is increasing by the day. The trust is already forced to restrict the entry to one hour. Even then it slows down the speed with which the long queue moves.”

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