02/02/2016 5:11 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

Shani Shingnapur Temple Row: Sharad Pawar Demands Entry For Women, Says 'God Can't Discriminate'

PRAKASH MATHEMA via Getty Images
A Nepalese Hindu woman, dressed in red, holds offerings in homage to Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction as she celebrates the Teej festival at the Pashupatinath temple area in Kathmandu on September 16, 2015. The three-day long Teej festival, celebrated by Hindu women in Nepal and some parts of India, is observed by married women with fasting during the day and praying for long lives for their husbands, while unmarried women wish for handsome husbands and happy conjugal lives. AFP PHOTO/ Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

MUMBAI -- Supporting the demand for lifting restrictions on women's entry in Shani Shingnapur temple in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district, NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said God cannot discriminate between genders and that he feels nobody should be barred from praying.

"What kind of God is this who bars entry of women in temples? If there is indeed such a God, I do not believe in Him. My God cannot discriminate between genders," Pawar told reporters here.

"I have already spoken to the temple authorities and requested them to re-consider their decision and allow women to enter the temple. Let us see the outcome," he said.

Replying to a query, Pawar said the government cannot do anything much about the issue until villagers are convinced to shun traditional customs.

"First the villagers need to be taken into confidence on the issue and only then can the government do something about it," he said.

Defying an age-old tradition of not allowing women inside the sanctum sanctorum of Shani Shingnapur shrine, women protesters had recently tried to force their way into the temple but were stopped from doing so.

They later met Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and submitted a memorandum to him in the regard.

Fadnavis had later, in a series of tweets, advocated for a change in cultural traditions, saying that Indian culture and Hindu religion give women the right to pray.

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will also visit Shani Shingnapur on February 7 in a bid to resolve the deadlock between temple authorities and villagers.

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