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
"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
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
"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."