Wednesday February 21, 2018

Shani Shingnapur Temple puts an end to discrimination

a door opened to equanimity

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the shani shignapur
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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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It’s not what you wear, but the way you wear it

Men lack the enzyme which processes self-awareness, which is why we think we look good in Speedos

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A lot depends upon what we wear and how we carry it. Wikimedia Common
A lot depends upon what we wear and how we carry it. Wikimedia Common

Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work.

I expected my wife to veto the idea, but she was okay with it, saying: “It’s not what you wear that counts, but whether you can carry it off.”

Mind you, this was a phone conversation and so she couldn’t see what I was wearing. In the event, going to work in a killer clown outfit was not as bad as it might have been, and the fake bloodstains on the costume proved advantageous. Fellow passengers quickly gave me a seat on the bus — actually, a whole block of seats.

Also Read: Get quirky with your shoes

The main (and possibly only) advantage of marriage for guys is that we are given full-time aides (“wives”) who generally prevent us going out looking too ridiculous. Men lack the enzyme which processes self-awareness, which is why we think we look good in Speedos.

Proof: In my true-crime file is a report about a criminal fugitive on the run in Japan who disguised himself in a girls’ sailor suit school uniform. Since he was a tall man with massive shoulders, he managed to evade detection for only minutes.

Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work. Wikimedia Commons
Definition of being behind on the laundry: When you find yourself seriously considering wearing a Halloween costume to work. Wikimedia Commons

Another true story: Last year, a pair of bank robbers decided to dress as women to scope out a bank in Thomasville, Florida. The result was the opposite of what they expected: They became the centre of attention, of course.

It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman — good taste, and the ability to walk with our feet clamped in instruments of torture known as “lady’s shoes”.

There’s one exception which proves my point. In November last year, the coach of the Thailand women’s kabaddi team was dismayed to find out that males were banned from attending women’s sports events in Iran, where his team was playing. So he wrapped his head in a female scarf and marched straight in.

Also Read: Why Do People Get Aggressive After Drinking?

He fooled nobody but correctly judged that the women would be too nice to throw him out. Smart guy.

Our UK correspondent shared a sad news item about a group of men who raised money for their local hospital by dressing as nurses and pushing a bed around town. The hospital refused to accept the cash as they said it was considered politically incorrect for men to dress as nurses these days.

It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman. Wikimedia Commons
It is really hard for men to dress convincingly as females as we lack the two main things that make a woman a woman. Wikimedia Commons

This seems unfair, as I have seen marathon runners dressed as bananas, dinosaurs and Q-Tips without complaint from fruit sellers, palaeontologists or people who like to poke things in their ears.

But the political issues surrounding women’s clothes are complex. In 2011 someone organised a “slutwalk” in Canada. This involved scantily-clad females marching down the road with protest banners. When the Slutwalk arrived in Asia, the women were fully covered up and many of the marchers were male; so the event missed the point, a bit like the Animal Rights Barbecue that a friend of mine once tried to organise.

Also Read: 7 Unfailing Ways To Impress Your Lady Love & Swoon Her Off Her Feet

Anyway, like my wife says, it’s not what you wear but how you wear it. By the way, I look great in a Speedo. (IANS)

(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)

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