April 13, 2016

Religious bigotry in the 21st Century

The past fortnight, we were witness to the shenanigans of a gritty and dogged 31-year old girl. Trupthi Desai, President of the NGO Bhumata Ranragini Brigade. Trupthi Desai is a graduate of Mumbai's SNDT University and has been previously associated with Anna Hazare's movement.

The whole controversy started when Trupthi, a devout Hindu was stopped from making her offerings to Lord Shani at the Shani Shingnapur temple near Shirdi in Maharashtra. This determined girl refused to accept the dictates of the bigots running the temple on the flimsy pretext that since women menstruate they are unclean and thus rendered unfit to pray at the shrine. She along with like-minded girls who are part of her NGO, Bhumata Ranragini Brigade, have been fighting all sorts of gender discrimination  for the past many years across the state of Maharashtra.

Earlier this year she threatened to paratroop at the Sanctum Sanctorum of the Shani Temple in Shani Shingnapur and hired a helicopter for the purpose but was stopped from performing the act by the District Administration and arrested. However by then she had already achieved her objective of starting a nation-wide debate on the subject of gender restrictions at places of worship across India, be it at The Shani Temple in Maharashtra or The Sabarimala Temple in Kerala or The Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai.

The dogged refusal of the so-called trustees of the temple forced her to knock at the doors of Justice and the High Court of Mumbai in a landmark judgement in her favour made it obligatory for all places of worship to make available all facilities to women devotees that were available to the male devotees. The temple guardians citing tradition and religious practice prevented Trupthi again with the help of male chauvinists in the local police and misguided men from nearby villages.

However not one to accept defeat easily this gritty soldier for equal rights again approached the courts and called upon the state government to uphold the judicial verdict and after a protracted battle she was allowed entry at the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple recently and allowed to make the customary offering of oil to Lord Shani.

More strength to this Dogged and spirited soldier of Women's rights !!
Hats off, Trupthi Desai. You bring glory to your family !! 
May your tribe increase !!

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