Mumbai: In order to break the centuries-old gender discrimination, at least 1000 women are gearing up to enter the inner sanctum of popular Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar and offer prayers on 26 January, marked as the Republic Day of India.
A move which can further escalate the row over bar on females to enter the Shani temple, media reports claim that the 'brigade' have sought permission to enter the temple via helicopter.
According to news agency ANI, the group will be led by Trupti Desai, activist and the president of Bhumata Rangranai Brigade.
"Women want equality, which was given in the Constitution of India on January 26. Hence we want to protest on this day. It is injustice to women that they are not being allowed to enter the temple on the basis of gender bias. This is a fight for the self-respect of women. That's why we are going to the temple and around 1000 women will offer the prayers," she said.
"Around 400 women were supposed to come but around 1500 women have registered so far. We also have received a notice from the police. We will not go back and continue our fight," she added.
"Does the Shani god become impure when a male visits the temple in a drunken state? But if a woman goes there then the God becomes impure. How is it possible?" she wondered.
Desai had last year said, “We feel it is a symbol of gender inequality which cannot be tolerated in the 21st century.”
The temple authorities, for centuries, has barred women from paying obeisance at the platform where the rock idol of Lord Shani is installed.
For the past few months, women have been trying to make a foray to the sanctum.
In November 2015, one woman was severely criticised after she did so, while four women, including Desai, tried to climb the platform where the idol is installed on December 19.
Angered at these intrusions, the priests of the temple had performed 'milk purification rituals' at the temple. The temple authorities had to even suspend seven security officials.
While the women have vowed to accomplish their objective, it's going to be a tough fight as the temple authorities and some Hindu organisations are up in arms against them.
Meanwhile, the temple administration has stepped-up the security and the villagers are planning to form a cordon in order to stop the women from entering the temple premises.