The Bhumata Ranragini Brigade came into the limelight when the priests of Maharashtra’s Shani Shingnapur temple raised objections to the entry of women in the shrine and ‘purified’ the main idol after a woman had sneaked onto the platform where the deity was placed. Trupti Desai, along with members of Bhumata Brigade marched towards the sanctum demanding that women be allowed in the inner sanctorum, doing away with the age-old practice.

There are many stereotypes that have created fault lines in the Indian society and many believed that denying women the entry into the Shani temple is about to create another one. Taking up the cause of women, the Bhumata Brigade, led by Trupti Desai fought commendably well to emerge victorious and in the process shattered such beliefs.

“I am a believer in god, in Lord Shani. Why must I be denied access to the god I believe in? What is this tradition which suggests women are impure?” asks Desai. Those who followed the agitation of Bhumata Brigade closely have noticed that aggression, finely combined with a commitment towards the goal had led to the success of the struggle. The agitation which started in November 2015 after a woman, not from the NGO, forcibly entered the prohibited area and prayed. Since then Desai and her band of equally aggressive and young activists had made several bids to enter the temple though each time the police and locals stopped them. The end result of their struggle bore the stamp of the historical ruling of the Bombay High Court which ruled hat men and women have equal rights of entry into places of worship.

According to Trupti Desai, her immediate agenda is to lend strength to similar campaigns at other places of worship including the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai where women are barred from entering the mausoleum inside the Sufi shrine.

The Bombay High Court is currently hearing a petition filed by Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) against the Haji Ali Dargah Trust’s decision. It is to be noted that the BMMA had supported Bhumata Brigade’s campaign and the Brigade has reciprocated by lending its support to BMMA.

Such is the impact of the struggle of the Bhumata Brigade that even the Mahalakshmi temple in Kolhapur has allowed women to enter the inner sanctum of the shrine.