There are numerous places in India where specific people are not allowed to enter. Strange, isn’t it? But as a matter of fact there are actually some holy places in India like temples where foreigners and non-Hindus are banned from visiting. It has not been long when Indian Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was not allowed to enter Guruvayoor Temple in Kerala just because she is a white skin and does not look Indian!
Here are few other places where the entrance remains closed to Sonia Gandhi (foreigners in General) and non-hindus.
Controversies are not new to Guruvayoor temple in Kerala and it became big news when prominent political leaders like Sonia Gandhi and Giani Zail Singh could not enter the temple because of its strict rules. Non-Hindu’s and foreigners are banned from entering this temple in spite of the wide protests from every sector of the society. Some years before, the priests of the temple conducted a purification ceremony after the visit of Union Cabinet Minister, Vayalar Ravi and his family, as they were not sure about the religion of Ravi’s son as his mother was a Christian! But, later on the temple board was forced to apologize for this injustice. The list of people who longs to get a glimpse of the deity Krishna at Guruvayoor goes on and famous playback singer Yesudas is one among them.
Jagannath temple of Puri has the maximum number of controversies in its name which begins with the banning of Indira Gandhi‘s entry to the temple in the year 1984.Her marriage with Feroz Gandhi, a Parsi closed the temple gates before her and she had to see the temple from the nearby Raghunandan Library building. Sirindhorn, the Crown Princess of Thailand had to be the victim of a similar kind of injustice as she happened to be a foreigner and moreover a Buddhist. The most pathetic incident occurred in the year 2008 when food worth Rs.1 million was destroyed following a foreigner’s visit; in a country where millions find it hard to get a single day’s meal! The famous poet and saint Kabir, Lord Curzon and Guru Nanak are the other eminent people who were banned from entering the temple.
Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar, described as ‘The truest fusion of dream & realty’ had to stop all the rituals for four hours recently as a 35-year-old Russian tourist entered the temple premises, which is off limits to non-Hindus. The priests even destroyed the ‘prasad’ worth more than Rs. 50,000 after performing ‘purification ceremony’, following the foreigner’s visit. ”We cleansed the temple as per tradition and dumped the prasad in a well as it was defiled following the unprecedented incident,” said Abanikant Pattnaik, the executive officer of the temple. Moreover, they also collected money from the tourist as compounding fee for breaking the rules and regulations of the shrine. Similar situations happened in the years 2008 and 2009 as well resulting in chaos and purification rituals.
Padmanabha Swamy Temple
Padmanabhaswamy Temple (Thiruvananthapuram) credited with the title ‘The richest Temple in India’ and in the world has become hotspot for pilgrimage tourists, with the unearthing of the treasure trove. The number of foreigners visiting the temple has increased considerably, but unfortunately as non-Hindus are not allowed they have to peep from outside to get few glimpses and be satisfied by clicking some photographs. ”After the news spread about the temple wealth, we are witnessing a huge flow of both foreign and domestic tourists coming to visit the temple. Many foreign tourists have come to us asking for permission to enter the temple. But we cannot grant them the permission as per the tradition, only Hindus are allowed to offer ‘darshan’ inside the temple,” said V K Harikumar executive officer of the temple.
Some of the famous temples in Goa which permitted foreigners to enter the shrines had to restrict them from entering due to incidents of ‘scantily dressed’ tourists visiting the temple. Mahalasa temple at Panaji put up the board ”Entry Restricted for Foreign Tourists” and temples such as Ramnathi and Mangueshi imposed dress codes for both domestic as well as foreign visitors. Moreover, some of the foreigners out of ignorance wore garlands which were supposed to be offered to the deity, which made the local people angry and annoyed.
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