Saturday December 16, 2017

Shani Shingnapur Temple puts an end to discrimination

a door opened to equanimity

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the shani shignapur

A group of women on Friday created history when they prayed at the well known Shani Shingnapur temple here by pouring oil on the five-feet tall idol of Lord Shanidev.

The development took place shortly after the Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust declared that women would be allowed to enter and pray at the open-to-sky platform from now on.

Trustee Shalini Lande pointed out that the Bombay High Court had ruled that there was no law to prevent women from entering any place of worship.

“Yes, we have taken this decision. We shall now finalise other details like how and when women can go and worship there,” Trust chairperson Anita Shetye told IANS.

For over four centuries, women have been barred from stepping onto the high platform on which stands a black stone — symbolising Lord Shanidev, the personification of planet Saturn.

From 2010, even men were barred from climbing onto the platform on grounds of safety. But on Friday, a few village youths barged through the steel barricades and offered prayers.

Bhumata Ranragini Brigade president Trupti Desai, several women activists, women from the Sonai village and neighbouring towns trooped to the temple too after and Trust decision.

They were allowed to enter and pray peacefully in the evening, breaking centuries old traditions.

An unidentified woman had unknowingly done the prayers in November last year, setting off a chain of events which finally culminated in a victory for gender equality on Friday.

Trupti Desai, who was one week ago prevented and assaulted while trying to climb on the temple steps, experienced a sea change when she offered prayers, oil abhishek and flowers on Friday amid cheers by a large number of people.

Friday’s decision was welcomed by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

In January, the temple trust overturned another old practice and unanimously elected Anita Shetye as its first ever woman chairperson and another woman as a trustee.

On April 1, a division bench of Bombay High Court had ruled that under the Hindu Place of Worship (Entry Authorisation) Act, 1956, women could not be barred from any place of worship.

The court directed the state government to take pro-active steps to ensure compliance with the law, saying “it is the fundamental right of a woman and must be protected”.

The government said it was totally opposed to gender discriminaton.

A day after the verdict, a group of women were stopped from entering the temple complex.

The unique open temple has no walls or roof. A self-emerged (svayambhu) five-foot black stone stands on a platform and is worshipped as Lord Shanidev, in the centre of the small village.

Shani Shingnapur is known as the only village where houses do not have doors and locks, and yet it remains theft free.

Even the 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 would befall anyone who steals. IANS

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Supreme Court Announces Triple Talaq Ban in India, Calls it ‘Un-islamic’

The BMMA celebrates its victory over the much-debated practice of instant divorce

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• Supreme court has ruled that the practice of triple talaq is illegal.
• BMMA celebrates the ban on unilateral divorce.
In a landmark decision by a five-member panel, the Supreme Court has banned the practice of triple talaq in India, calling the much-debated practice “unislamic, arbitrary and unconstitutional”. The verdict, which was passed by a 3-2 majority on August 22, 2017, has been met with mixed reactions all over the country, attracting applause as well as apprehension from people.

What is triple talaq

The practice of triple talaq, or talaq-e-biddat, is a Islamic ritual through which a man might divorce his wife by uttering the word ‘talaq’, that is, the Arabic word for ‘divorce’, three times. The controversial practice, which dates back to Islamic scriptures of the 8th century AD, was a common one among the Muslim population in India, most of which follow the Hanafi school of law. The practice of instant divorce has often been enacted in India, not only through oral declaration, but also through letters, emails, text messages, Skype and Whatsapp.

 

 The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
Stock image, VOA News

Reactions to the triple talaq ban in India

“It’s been 10 years of a struggle on the 8 percent of the population, so that’s a big respite, and a big relief,”stated Noorjehan, the co-founder of the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA), also known as the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. The BMMA had fought a long and hard legal battle in order to secure this verdict, on the grounds that the practice of instant divorce through an oral declaration has left many Muslim women bereft of their right to alimony as well as the custody of children. The BMMA has also claimed that the prescribed avenues for reconsideration or reconciliation are rarely followed in India, as a result of which 90 per cent of the 4710 women they had interviewed had called for a ban on the controversial practice. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), on the other hand, has opposed the verdict, claiming that it infringes the right to religion of Muslim people, which is granted to the citizens of India via Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.

The Supreme Court of India bans the practice of triple talaq
Stock image, VOA News

However, the verdict has been passed against triple talaq by a five-member panel of judges, in which each of the judges belonged to a different religion: Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity, after they had reviewed the petitions of seven women who felt victimised by the practice.
“Triple talaq is against the basic tenets of the Holy Quran and consequently, it violates Shariat … What is held to be bad in the Holy Quran cannot be good in Shariat and, in that sense, what is bad in theology is bad in law as well,” declared the panel of Supreme Court judges, making India the 23rd nation to ban the practice of unilateral divorce, after Pakistan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

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Women influence, irrespective of the field, is good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar

Farhan Akhtar says that influence of women irrespective of the field is good for everyone

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Influence of women in any filed if good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar.
Influence of women in any filed if good for everyone, says Farhan Akhtar. IANS

New Delhi, Dec 15, 2017: Actor-filmmaker-singer Farhan Akhtar hopes that actresses backing films as producers is not just a passing trend as he believes that women’s influence, irrespective of the field, is good for everyone.

Over the years, actresses like Dia Mirza, Priyanka Chopra, Anushka Sharma, Chitrangda Singh and Richa Chadha have shown interest in contributing to filmmaking as producers.

Asked what he thought about the trend, Akhtar told IANS here: “That’s how it should be. Not just actresses, there are also a lot of female producers and women who are working in different companies and handling the creative aspect of those companies.”

“It is amazing to see that. The more influence that we have of women in any field, why just films… it can be sports or politics also, it’s good for everyone because they have a different perspective on things because they have experienced life in different ways from what we (men) have; so, it makes a difference,” added the brother of director Zoya Akhtar.

Farhan’s latest co-production, “Fukrey Returns”, registered an opening day collection of Rs 8.10 crore on December 8. Are box office collections more important when he produces a film?

“The reason you do a film is because you want to share it with the world and when a lot of people see your film, the most tangible recognition of it is the box office collection, because you can aggregate a number through it,” he said.

But for him, success of a film also means “conceptually what is done to get people to think about things”.

“There are many films that were released in their time and not considered box office hits, but what that film meant, the kind of story-telling, the work that went into that film have sustained and at times (they are) considered as landmark films and way ahead of their times.

“So, success of a film can be gauged on many fronts; but is box office important? Of course it is, because people are putting money in a film. You don’t want anyone to lose money,” said the co-founder of Excel Entertainment that has produced blockbusters like “Rock On!!” and “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”.

The first look of his next co-production “3 Storeys”, starring Pulkit Samrat, Sharman Joshi, Richa Chadha and Renuka Shahane, was unveiled last week.

So, is a multi-starrer the formula for a hit film?

“I don’t think so. Eventually, a good story should be the formula for success… whether it is about one person in a room or 21 people in a colony like in ‘3 Storeys’. Our emphasis is on trying to tell good stories.

“Arjun Mukerjee, who is the director and writer of this film, has truly put together something that we consider very special. Now we are excited to share it with others,” he said.

Farhan is also passionate about fitness, among other things. The actor, who has fronted ads of vitamins and dietary supplements brand, is now endorsing Apollo Munich Health Insurance.

Is he deliberately focussing on health-related brands?

“It is not deliberate. I do feel good about doing it when it does happen. I don’t go around looking for it, but I guess the lifestyle that I lead, the kind of work that I do, information on my life and focus on health and fitness, encourage people to come and speak to me about it,” said the 43-year-old.

When did he start taking fitness seriously?

“I got serious about it in 2003-2004. I was shooting for ‘Lakshya’ in Ladakh. We were there for five months and I felt incredibly fit by the time I came back from there.

“When I returned to Mumbai, my energy levels were really high… it was a feeling that I didn’t want to lose. That’s when I started training with Sam (Samir Jaura), who is my trainer,” said the “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” actor.

He believes fitness is not about “going to a gym and getting big biceps. It’s much more than that”. (IANS)

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Women’s major role in Shahid Kapoor’s life

Know why Shahid Kpoor says that women have been the strongest and important part of his life

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Women have played a major role in Shahid Kapoor's life
Women have played a major role in Shahid Kapoor's life. IANS
  • Shahid Kapoor talks about how women have played a major role in his life
  • Shahid Kapoor says how the condition of women has evolved in the Bollywood industry

New Delhi, Dec 9: Actor Shahid Kapoor says the strongest people in his life have been women, especially his mother Neelima Azeem who has been a single parent. He also calls his wife Mira and daughter Misha his “whole world” and says he couldn’t have been happier in his life than now.

Shahid spoke to IANS on phone from Mumbai on the sidelines of Reebok FitToFight Awards 2.0, where the brand felicitated women nominees from across the country for their spirit and courage.

“I don’t think there is anything which resonated with me so naturally as this campaign did. The strongest people in my life have been women, starting with my mother. She was a single parent and she was the most powerful and the strongest, and a person I would depend on the most,” said Shahid, who endorses Reebok with Kangana Ranaut.

“Today, Mira and Misha are my whole world and I can’t think of any reason why this initiative would not connect with me. It’s the most natural connect,” said the actor, who also believes women are fitter than men.

“Women know how to deal with situations better than most men do. They are very independent and self-assured,” he said.

So is he going to inculcate these traits in Misha too?

“I want her to discover herself, be respectful towards family and appreciate everything that she has. I want her to spread love and happiness,” he said of his little one, who was born in August 2016.

Coming from an industry where heroines often complain about not getting the equal screen space compared to their male counterparts, Shahid feels the journey of female stars has changed over the years.

“It’s important to recognise roles for their power, for their impact. It doesn’t matter whether it is male or female. I think stories that deserve being told, the characters that deserve being showcased, must be showcased. There is nothing like male or female in art. It’s just about discussing life, connecting with people and saying something substantial.

“I think it’s amazing to see that so much has been created in films which are female-centric and they are loved by audiences. It also goes to show that we have a lot of women in the audience, in case anybody had forgotten,” he said.

And what does he think about pay equality?

“I think it is changing for the positive. I think people are recognising (the issue) and it is all co-related. Today, women-oriented films have started doing extremely well and they have developed a market for themselves. Therefore, the change is naturally happening.

“Like I said before, it’s not about male or female. If you deserve to be paid a certain amount because that is how viable you are, you must be paid that,” Shahid told IANS.

His next film “Padmavati”, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is under the scanner for alleged distortion of historical facts about the fabled Rajput queen. The film was scheduled to release on December 1, but was deferred and uncertainty over its release still looms large.

Tired of commenting on the row, he said: “I have spoken enough and I don’t feel the need to say anything more.”

He also said trolls and backlash are problems emerging from social media.

“It’s very easy to pass a comment when you don’t have to be accountable for it because nobody even knows who you are.” (IANS)