Row on foreigners entry issue in Jagannath Temple
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Last Updated: Monday, July 18, 2011, 23:04
Bhubaneswar: The ruling BJD's senior leader and Rajya Sabha MP Pyari Mohan Mohapatra's statement supporting the idea of allowing foreigners to enter into Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri has sparked a row with a local outfit staging agitation before the 12th century shrine.

Mohapatra, considered as the chief advisor to the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, had on Sunday told a meeting on tourism that there was nothing wrong to allow foreigners to enter into the temple in order to boost tourism potential of the state.

"I had said to allow entry of people belonging to all religions into the temple with a focus on tourism. I was not speaking at any religious convention, rather at a business meeting on the promotion of tourism," Mohapatra said, adding that only tourism could help in providing employment to the local youths.

The 12th century shrine, however, did not allow non-Hindus into the temple. A sign board at the temple's Lion Gate clearly states: "Only Hindus are allowed".

"If we allow foreigners to enter into the temple, tourist flow to the state will be doubled," the BJD MP had stated.

Angry over Mohapatra's statement, activists of Jagannath Sena in Puri staged a demonstration in front of the temple and burnt his effigy demanding withdrawal of the statement.

"How can Mohapatra make such a statement which hurts sentiments of crores of Hindus? He should withdraw it immediately," said Jagannath Sena's chief Priyadarshi Patnaik.

Sri Jagannath Temple priest Jagannath Swain Mohapatra said: "Pyari Babu should not have made such a statement. It is better for him to withdraw the statement immediately".

Meanwhile, Assam Governor and former Orissa chief minister JB Patnaik on July 5, had advocated for entry of ISKCON devotees into the temple. "The ISKCON devotees should not be prevented from the temple entry for being whites. They are Hindus and read the sacred 'Bhagavat' everyday and have set up a number of Jagannth Temples across the globe."

Gajapati Maharaj of Puri King Dibyasingha Deb said, "The religious leaders, saints, spiritual persons should decide whether non-Hindus should be allowed into the temple."


First Published: Monday, July 18, 2011, 23:04

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