Indians are not very well-known for breaking conventions, especially not women, but Trupti Desai (31) has broken that myth. Paying no heed to outlandish comments by the likes of Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopananada who said entering Shani temple will invite rape, a group of women led by Desai entered the inner sanctum of the historical Mahalaxmi temple in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district.
This happened just days after the Shani Shingnapur temple trust in Maharashtra decided to allow women to enter the inner sanctum of the temple. These events hold importance as they evoked the Bombay High Court to rule that women cannot be stopped from entering the religious places.
Trupti Desai’s bravery led us to find out if there are temples in India where men are denied entry. And guess what? To our surprise, we found quite a few such temples dedicated to goddesses and women power …
* The Jagatpita Brahma Mandir at Pushkar in Rajasthan features prominent on this list. The temple’s sanctum sanctorum holds the central images of Brahma and his second consort Gayatri. Dating back to 14th century, this temple does not allow married men in the sanctum. Hence, all offerings by male pilgrims are given, from the outer hall of the temple, through a priest who is a sanyasi. Once a year, on Kartik Poornima, the full moon night of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik (October – November), a religious festival is held in lord Brahma’s honour here.
* Attukal temple is renowned in Kerala. Women worship goddess Kannaki (Parvathi), popularly known as Attukal Amma. The temple hosts Attukal Pongala festival, in which over a million women participate. Only women are allowed to participate in the Pongala ritual. The festival has figured in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the single largest gathering of women for a religious activity.
* Chakkulathukavu temple is another temple in Kerala dedicated to goddess Bhagawathi. A peculiar annual ritual called ‘Naari Puja’ is performed here. On the first Friday of Dhanu (December), male priests wash the feet of female devotees who have fasted for 10 days. It is believed that female devotees visiting on this particular day are the incarnation of Chakkulathu Amma (goddess).
* The Kamrup Kamchhaya temple in Assam is another such temple. It is one of the oldest of the 51 shakti pithas. Mythology says that lord Vishnu cut the dead body of goddess Sati with his sudarshan chakra to calm down lord Shiva. The 108 places where Sati’s body parts fell are called Shakti peeths. Kamakhya temple is special because Sati’s womb and vagina fell here. Famous as the temple of the bleeding goddess, this temple remains closed for 3 days in the month of Ashaad (June) when the goddess is believed to menstruate. Only women are allowed to enter the premises during the time of monthly period. At this time, the Brahmaputra river near Kamakhya turns red. The holy water is distributed among the devotees of Kamakhya devi.
* Another temple in Muzaffarpur, Bihar allows only women during the time of period. Even male priest are not allowed to enter the premises. Devotees celebrate the end of goddess’ menstruation. In both these temples, the menstrual cloth is considered highly auspicious and is distributed among devotees.
* One such temple of ‘virgin’ Bhagawati Maa is in Kanyakumari in Kerala. It is believed goddess Parvati came here to perform tapasya. She sought lord Shiva as her husband.