New Delhi: The entry of women into a famous temple devoted to Lord Shani or Saturn in Maharashtra will drive more rapes, a senior religious leader has said.
- Earlier, he had warned of the 'harmful effect of Shani (Saturn) on women'
- Women were banned from entering Shani Shingnapur temple's inner sanctum
- Court overturned ban saying women, men must have equal access to temple
Shankaracharya Swaroopanand's comment comes just days after the temple ended a centuries-old ban on women being allowed to offer prayers at the open-air platform where the idol is placed in the Shani Shingnapur shrine in Maharashtra.
Temple officials and locals in the area had prevented women from entering the inner sanctum till the Bombay High Court ruled last week that their actions were illegal.
In January, when women activists tried to force their way into the temple, Swami Swaroopanand, who is 94, warned that "the effect of Shani (Saturn) is harmful on women."
Equal access to temples for women and men is also being heard by the Supreme Court, where activists have challenged a ban on women of reproductive age at the hugely popular Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
"Can you say that don't come (here) because you are a woman ? The grounds in this case is that gender justice is in danger," the top court's judges said today. At earlier hearings, they have observed that banning women from temples amounts to a violation of constitutional rights, but the Kerala government and the trust that governs the temple have staunchly defended the restrictions on women.