Bhubaneswar: An American national was on Friday allegedly beaten up in Puri by security personnel when he along with his Indian wife attempted to climb the chariot of Lord Jagannath seeking a `darshan`.
Claiming to have converted to Hinduism, Noel Magee Hayden (32), said he has the right to have darshan of the Lord atop the chariot but was forcibly stopped and beaten up private security guards of the Puri`s Jagannath temple.
"As the Sri Jagannath temple is off limits to non-Hindus, foreign pilgrims, mostly converted-Hindus like me, the Rath Yatra period is an opportunity for us to touch the Lord," California-based Hayden said.
The incident happened soon after the chariots of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra reached Gundicha temple in the afternoon. "The temple administration would certainly look into the matter and initiate appropriate action in this case," said Chief Temple Administrator Arabinda Padhee.
Hayden and his wife Shilpi from Dhenkanal district of Odisha, were about to climb the ladder of Jagannath`s chariot when some security personnel waylaid them saying that he cannot go up as he is a non-Hindu.
"We tried to explain that it is the only time when we can climb the chariot and view the deities. They argued with me and pushed away my husband. Some of them beat him up," Shilpi said.
"I have received her complaint and will inquire into the matter," said Kumbharapada inspector S K Biswal.
The incident has sparked resentment among the devotees and priests.
"Lord Jagannath is the master of the universe. He comes out on Rath Yatra giving an opportunity for the people who are denied entry into the temple," said priest Daitapati Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra.
"If the security men felt that someone should not be allowed to climb the chariot, they could have facilitate his darshan from below the chariot," the priest said.