After 2,000 years, temple allows women into sanctum sanctorum

April 15th, 2011 - 4:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Kolhapur (Maharashtra), April 15 (IANS) Breaking a 2,000-year-old tradition, women were allowed entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the Mahalakshmi temple here Friday. The temple is dedicated to the goddess of power.

The decision to allow women to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple from 10 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. was taken at a high level meeting chaired by Minister of State for Home Satej Patil.

“The temple trustees, priests and other officials of the city were present in the meeting chaired by Patil,” said Hanumant Suryavanshi, secretary of the Devasthan Management Committee that runs the temple.

A group of 40 women activists of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), led by legislator Ram Kadam, had entered the sanctum sanctorum Thursday.

On Wednesday, 10 women led by Nita Kelkar, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Mahila Morcha, had also trooped down to the sanctum sanctorum which has barred the entry of common women in the past two millenniums.

The women walked in peacefully, and offered prayers to goddess Ambabai, taking many by surprise. Until now, women were allowed to enter the temple but forced to offer prayers from a point away from the sanctum sanctorum.

“It is so strange that women are barred from entering the holy spot in the temple of a goddess,” Kelkar lamented.

However, there were no such restrictions on women from royal families as well as celebrities and wives of priests.

Kelkar said several communities were not allowed to enter the temple until 1978.

“Then the members of Sahu community protested and that opened the gates of the temple for all communities, but only men were allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum,” she said.

Considered one of the six Shakti Peethas of India, the temple is associated with Shakti, the goddess of power.

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