Ahmednagar: A women's group has threatened to storm the famous Shani Shingnapur Temple here in Maharashtra on Tuesday.
Notably, women are barred from paying obeisance at the temple.
But the activists aim at offering prayers at the Shani temple today, even if it takes landing on the temple by a helicopter.
"We have already booked a helicopter and if we are not permitted to enter from the open ground, we shall drop ladders from the chopper and descend. We are not scared of any security since women's rights are concerned," Trupti Desai, the president of Bhumata Ranragini Brigade (BRB), told IANS on Monday.
She said around 1,500 women from all over Maharashtra shall troop down to the temple on Tuesday morning and perform prayers at the temple, dedicated to Lord Shani -- the personification of planet Saturn.
Desai said women must be permitted access inside the temple as the country's Constitution treats men and women equally.
The group is planning to launch similar agitations in other places of worship all over India where women are denied entry on various grounds, Desai said.
Meanwhile, police and the temple authorities have put up three levels of barricades, deployed a considerable force of women constables and village volunteers to guard the temple from Tuesday's likely onslaught by BRB activists.
Ahmednagar District Collector Anil Kawade told news agency PTI that they have received the application from the women's group requesting usage of helicopter.
"We have received the application and it has been sent to the office of the Superintendent of Police as they are the one who will take the decision whether to give the permission for helicopter use," he said.
When contacted, Ahmednagar SP Saurabh Tripathi said the application has been sent to the local police station as the decision on granting permission will be taken on the basis of ground reality and the situation.
The unique open temple has no walls or roof. A self-emerged (svayambhu) five-foot-high black stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shanidev.
The temple platform stands in the centre of the small village, also known as Sonai, and attracts millions of tourists and devotees from across the country and abroad.
However, barring the temple priests, none is permitted to climb the nine steps up to the actual stone idol that represents the deity. Everybody must only offer prayers from below the platform, said a temple trustee Prafull N Surpuriya.
Shani Shingnapur is globally known as the only village where houses do not have doors and locks, and the village remains theft-free.
Even the nationalised 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.
Although the temple itself has a much older history, the present form of management of its activities is over five centuries old, Surpuriya said.