Bengaluru: Favouring women’s entry into the Shani temple in Maharashtra’s Shinganapur village, seer and Art of Living (AoL) founder Sri Ravi Shankar on Monday suggested two models to overcome the centuries-old taboo.
“The Shani temple committee can adopt the Kashi Vishwanath temple model where everyone is allowed to enter or the Tirupati model where only the priest is allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum,” he said in a statement here.
Favouring more women representation on the Shani temple trust committee, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said the temple management has agreed to his suggestion.
An AoL spokeperson told IANS that Ravi Shankar is likely to visit the Shani temple in the coming days, as at present he is visiting Tamil Nadu.
Located at Shinganapur village in Ahmednagar, 300 km from Mumbai, the unique Shanidev temple attracts millions of tourists and devotees from across the country as well as abroad though women are not allowed at the temple.’s elevated platform where the deity is installed.
The temple is open on all sides, has no walls or roof. A ‘svayambhu’ (self-emerged) five-foot-high black stone, deified as the temple deity stands on a raised platform and is worshipped as Shanidev.
Barring the temple priests, no one is, however, permitted to climb the nine steps up to the stone idol.
Shani Shinganapur is also known as the only village in the country where houses do not have doors and locks, and the village remains theft-free.
Even state-run 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. Fear of the wrath of Lord Shani has kept the village free of theft and crime.
On January 26, about 1,500 women activists sought to go in buses towards Shinganapur in an attempt to defy the age-old taboo on women’s entry to the temple, but were stopped by police.