Kudos! Women of the nation with cultural diversity have come together and won the freedom to pray at the place of their choice. Shani Shingnapur mandir has finally allowed women to enter the inner sanctum and offer their worship to Lord Shani. Indeed, it's a victory, not only for women of India but also for every right thinking man. Since the childhood, I have been learning that God does not discriminate the devotees on the basis of age, sex, and any other parameters. However, it took a long period of 400 years for the 'authorities' at Shani Shingnapur temple to understand this basic fact. Today, when women can freely walk inside the inner sanctum, should we stop walking? Or we should make this walk a marathon to help women reach to all the places that do not allow women's entry? Let us understand some points in the light of this beautiful morning.
The temple does not discriminate people from entering; it's the 'authority' of a temple that creates fallacy around the selective permissions. Remarkably enough, be it Islam or be it Hinduism, the 'authority' of religious places belong to men only. They decide who will go and what will be the limit. When did God appoint the first man on service? Can you please show me the offer letter? Not only me, the entire fraternity which stands for equal rights is asking the same question. Men are meant to support women; they are not supposed to suppress women and their independence (and that also in the terms of worshipping?). It's good that they keep authority of the temples, mosques and churches with them, but they must bring 'justice'. At least, they must be loyal to the message of God. Certainly, we are not going to spend another 400 years to enter the Haji Ali Dargah! Women have made it to Shani Shingnapur; they will make it to the Dargah as well.
Yes, Religion matters!
By the way, what does religion matter? We have limited the limits of religion. We have been selective in picking up the things that suit us and deserting those which don't entertain our limited mindset. Does any religion say that the right to have faith is limited in any sense? Does a religion limit people to follow it on the basis of sex? Is there any religion that only people of a particular gender follow? There are many questions like these... do we have the answer?
Religion believes in equality (whatever religion it be). Being specific, Hinduism believes in the concept of spirit and fundamental argument is that spirit has no gender. Thus, in Hinduism, people are equal. Moreover, the most, when we talk about respect for women, comes out from the core of Hinduism. Then, the question is, why people have problems with a 'goddess' entering into the temple of another 'god'? One the one hand, we chant that
"नारी सर्वत्र पुज्यते" & hymns like
"यत्र नार्यस्तु पुज्यन्ते
रमन्ते तत्र देवता ॥"
and on the other hand, we have problems when a 'naari' wants to enter the temple. This is sheer duplicity and people are watching it now.
Rightly pointed out a well-educated and intellectual 'naari' that in the USA, a woman is fighting the presidential election and India has already seen one. But, we are still fighting over petty issues like whether to allow women entry in certain temples or mosques. Isn't it a setback for the dream of digital India and stand-up India?
Moreover, when a 'certain' individual from VHP says that Hindus should have families with a 'certain' number of children, the media becomes the baby cry - India has become a Hindu Taliban. Not only media, people from the elite 'intellectual' class like Shobha De come out in public and have their say. However, have they ever tried to listen to the whispers of Muslim women who are still facing the curse of triple talaak?
Shani Dev, through the Shani Shingnapur issue, has given us a new chance. Let us come ahead and seize the opportunity. Don't be hypocrites; give women their fundamental right. If we want an India of tomorrow, we will have to get rid of 'yesterday' that is of no use!