Orissa temple performs purification after foreigner’s visit

January 16th, 2009 - 6:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Jan 16 (IANS) The daily rituals at 12th century Jagannath Temple in Orissa’s Puri city were delayed for over six hours Friday after a foreigner allegedly entered into the temple premises - an act seen as defiling the premises.The man who claimed himself to be Sebastian, 45, from Chile and a Hindu tried to enter the temple premises early Friday morning soon after the main gate opened, but was prevented by the policemen deployed there, the police said.

“A few minutes later, he somehow managed to enter the premises through the south gate,” inspector in charge of temple police station A.K. Dalai told IANS by phone.

Some of the temple priests caught him before he could enter the main temple and handed him over to the temple administration,” he said.

As a result of the incident, routine temple rituals were delayed for over six hours as priests performed purification rituals, before the gates were re-opened for devotees, inspector Dalai said.

Foreigners are not allowed to enter Hindu temples in Orissa, including the Jagannath temple at Puri and the Lingaraj temple in the state capital.

An American woman, Pamela K. Fleig, who had converted from Christianity to Hinduism after marrying an Uttar Pradesh resident, was denied entry into the 11th century Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar in 2005.

Thailand’s Crown Princess Sirindhorn was also not allowed to visit the Jagannath temple the same year, as she is a foreigner and a Buddhist.

The late prime minister Indira Gandhi — born a Hindu — was not allowed to enter the temple even when she was in power, as she had married a Parsi.

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