Sunday, April 17, 2011

Indian Women & the Mahalaxmi Temple

The Anna Hazare blitzkrieg, which shook up the entire system, proved that India is changing fast. A similar tremor of change was felt at the heart of the Mahalaxmi Temple in Kolhapur on Saturday. In this case, the pride of the patriach, the ultimate male bastion fortified by centuries of rules loaded against the fairer sex, was finally breached.

The garbhagruha (sanctum sanctorum) of the important twelfth century temple in a city of half a million, nestled in the lush corner of south Maharashtra’s sugar belt, was witness to a change in the course of history, with one line shouted out by a trustee of the temple a few minutes past 10.30 am: “Let the women devotees in.”

The trustee requested the male devotees to empty the tiny space and make way for the women. What followed was a group of women, who walked up the silver-coated staircase leading to the innermost shrine of Ambabai with a quiet zest in their steps, even as the few priests inside watched, aghast.

The centuries-old barrier had been broken at last, even as the hardcore traditionalists, which most of the priests in the garbhagruha are, watched in dismay because to them the sanctity of the divine abode of Ambabai, one among the Shaktipeeths, had been defiled.

No comments: