Ahmednagar (Maharashtra)�:�Anita Shetye, a housewife, created history of sort on Monday when she was unanimously appointed the first ever woman chairperson of the world-famous Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust, an official said.
Women devotees are not allowed to worship at this temple, dedicated to Lord Shanidev - the personification of planet Saturn.
�This is the first time in the temple�s over five centuries old history that this welcome development has taken place today. Another woman, Vaishali Lande, has also been appointed to the board of 11 trustees managing the temple,� Prafull N. Surpuriya, a trustee, confirmed to IANS.
Shetye, 40, will enjoy a five-year term in her post along with the other 11 trustees. As mandated, all the trustees are residents of Singnapur and born within the Shingnapur gram panchayat, which has a population of around 1,500.
"However, the temple will still continue to debar women devotees from worshipping at the temple," Surpuriya said.
�It is an ancient tradition that women are debarred from climbing up the temple steps to pour oil and offer prayers to Shanidev... There�s no reason for us to change traditions,� Surpuriya added.
Referring to a recent incident when a young woman unknowingly went up the temple steps and offered prayers before the deity, he pointed out that she admitted it was a genuine mistake and later apologised.
�Last month, a group of four women created a ruckus but along with some 400-500 other women, they left without going up to the temple,� Surpuriya explained.
Shani Shingnapur is also globally renowned as the only village where the houses do not have doors and locks, and even a local branch of a nationalised bank does not have locks as there is no fear of thieves.
Although the temple itself has a much older history, the present form of management and running its activities are over five centuries old, Surpuriya said.(IANS)