Hamirpur (HP), Apr 15: After Shani Shingnapur Temple Trust lifted the 400-year old tradition of restricting women from entering the sanctum sanctorum, the famous Baba Balak Nath Trust in Himachal's Hamirpur district has decided to allow the female devotees in the cave of "Babaji".
The temple, located on Dhaulagiri hills on the border of Hamirpur and Bilaspur districts, is under the control of the government and as per centuries-old tradition, women are not allowed to enter the cave. They pay obeisance and have 'darshan' from a platform, a few meters away from the main cave.
The temple is visited by lakhs of people every year and the deity, an incarnation of Lord Kartikeya (elder son of Lord Shiva) is believed to have been a "Brahmachari" (bachelor) throughout his life.
As per tradition, women are not permitted to go near the idol or touch it. 'Siddh Baba Balak Nath' is worshipped widely in north India and there has never been any demand from local people for breaking the tradition and allowing women to enter the cave.
However, senior BJP leader from Punjab Laxmi Kanta Chawla had created a furore a few years back by demanding that women should have equal rights of worship at the temple. But the plea was not accepted on the pretext that it was an old and accepted tradition.
When contacted, Akshay Sood, the SDM and also Chairman of the Trust, said that the authorities had not put any bar on entry of women in the cave but as per tradition, women themselves prefer to have 'darshan' from a platform, a few meters away from the cave.
A formal order in this regard is awaited but officials said that they had no issue in allowing women to enter the cave to offer 'pooja'.
However, Rajinder Giri, Mahant of the temple, said that since Babaji was a Brahmachari, locals preferred that women should not to go close to him and that became a tradition which is followed till date.
The Mahant said that there is a need to convene a meeting of the heads of religious sects associated with Babaji to discuss this vital issue and till then the matter should be put on hold as any hasty decision could go the wrong way.
He said that old religious traditions should be followed in letter and spirit and that religion should not be mixed with politics.