Shani Shingnapur is a village in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Situated in Nevasa taluka in Ahmednagar district, the village is known for its popular temple of Shani, the Hindu god associated with the planet Saturn. Recently this temple of Shani came into limelight for its regressive tradition of not allowing women to enter the temples premises. This tradition had been followed since the last “400”years without any objections. It all started when activist Trupti Desai tried to enter the temple to worship but was denied entry because she was a “woman”. Even after the high court clearly stated that “any person who denied entry to women inside the temple would have to face consequences” the activist group wasn’t allowed to enter the temple as the villagers believed that the group was breaking a “sacred tradition”. Her constant efforts to enter the temple were denied and she was put under preventive detention in Ahmednagar district to maintain peace. A similar case took place in Sabrimala temple in Kerala where women from the ages of 10 to 50 were banned from trekking on the Sabrimala hills or offering worship in the Sabrimala temple because they were of “menstrual age”.
The above mentioned incidents started a nationwide debate on gender bias .It is indeed shocking that the reason the temple had forbidden entry to females was that they “polluted “the temple because they were in their menstrual age. The more alarming fact was that this kind of practices were allowed and even encouraged in Kerala a state that boasts of a 100% literacy rate. What is the use of being literate if such regressive traditions are still encouraged? A woman is the source of life. Menstruation is an important aspect of reproduction through which life is created on earth. Yet it is considered a “taboo” topic in India and even condemned. The fact that is more outrageous is that any person would be allowed into the temple even if he is a “murderer, rapist or robber just because he is a male. But a women though she has not committed any crimes would be banned to enter just because she is a “woman”. How is this kind of thinking going to help in implementing gender equality? It is indeed an irony that India a place where goddesses like “Durga, Parvati and Sarawati are hugely worshipped, women aren’t allowed to enter the temples. This raises an important question “how are we as a country going to move forward where the position of women in society is continually degraded with each passing incident? Pandit Nehru the first prime minister of India said “You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of it women “Does the condition of India look good? Unfortunately not. Women in India are treated as an object rather than a gender or a person.
We live in the 21st century where women like Sania Mirza, Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, J.K Rowling, Emma Watson, Indira Nooyi and countless others have reached new peaks of success on their own. We live in a world where enormous amount of efforts are being taken by women and men all around the world for “gender equality”. We live in a world where women are considered to be equal to a man maybe even a step forward. Yet sadly we also live in a world where women are beaten, tortured, not cared for, raped, murdered and constantly degraded without blinking an eyelid. Incidents like these just continue to add to the incessant degradation of the position of women in the society and in the world and reaffirm the faith that it is indeed a “male dominated” society instead of one based on equality. If immediate actions are not taken to improve the condition of women in the society we would be leading to a very dark future. Desmond Tutu said “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite of all the darkness”. Similarly I hope for a future where the role of women in the society is respected and where women are treated not as the “fairer sex” but an “equal gender”, I hope for a world where women aren’t considered inferior, and I hope for a future where women are safe and independent. Basically, I hope for a better tomorrow.