Pankaja Munde defends ‘ban’ on women in Maharashtra temple

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BJP leader and Maharashtra Rural Development minister Pankaja Munde has defended the practice of not allowing women to perform ‘puja’ at Shani Shingnapur temple in Ahmednagar district, saying that traditional rituals cannot be “linked with insult” of women.

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“These are traditions and cannot be linked with insult of woman fraternity,” Munde said.

Munde’s statement, which came in the wake of a woman offering ‘puja’ at the temple by breaching security, drew sharp reaction from opposition NCP, which criticised her.

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NCP leader Chitra Wagh criticised Munde’s statement by saying that in a progressive state like Maharashtra, instead of appreciating the move to break the traditions that are against women, the BJP Minister, by making such a statement, has taken state back to an era where women were not treated at par with men.

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The temple, which attracts thousands of pilgrims daily, is devoted to Lord Shani and women are traditionally barred from offering prayers at the shrine, located about 250 km from Mumbai.

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