Ganeshi Lal, the governor of Odisha, has weighed in on a long-running and frequently contentious dispute by supporting foreigners’ admission to the renowned Jagannath Temple in Puri.
“A foreigner should be permitted to gaze upon the Chakanayana if they are permitted to meet Gajapati, servitors, and Jagatguru Shankaracharya” (a name of Lord Jagannath). Whether or not people agree with it, it is my own perspective, Governor Lal remarked at Utkal University in Bhubaneswar.
The plan has been met with the expected opposition from staff at the shrine from the 12th century and experts on Jagannath culture, who argue that the Temple’s customs and rituals shouldn’t be altered.
Temple of Jagannath
Lord Jagannath, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, is worshipped in the Temple along with his older brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra. The Temple is one of the four dhams (char dham) in India. To pray to the sister deities in the sanctum sanctorum, only Hindus are permitted inside the sanctuary. Only Hindus are permitted, according to a notice at the Temple’s Lion’s Gate (primary entrance).
Why no other religions?
Despite the lack of an obvious justification, it has been a tradition for generations. According to some historians, Muslim monarchs’ repeated assaults on the Temple may have prompted the servitors to set limits on non-Hindus’ access. Some claim that this has always been the case, even before the Temple was constructed.
Darshan of Patitapaban
Lord Jagannath is also referred to as Patitabapan, which is Sanskrit for “saviour of the oppressed.” As a result, everyone who is prohibited from entering the Temple for religious reasons is given the opportunity to see the Lord at the Lion’s Gate in the shape of Patitapaban.
whenever the Lord appears
Every year, during the nine-day Rath Yatra (car festival) in June or July, Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe, travels to Bada Danda (the Grand Road) with his siblings, allowing non-Hindus to see Him. Devotees from all over the world swarm Puri in an attempt to catch a sight of the goddesses as they journey to the Gundicha temple, where they were born.
Because she had married a non-Hindu, the servitors notoriously opposed Indira Gandhi’s admission into the Temple in 1984. The local Raghunandan Library was used as a place of worship for the time’s prime minister.
Thai Princess Maha Chakri Srinidhorn, who was making her first trip to Odisha in November 2005, observed the Temple from the outside because visitors from other countries are not permitted inside. Since she was a Christian, Elizabeth Jigler, a Swiss citizen, was refused admittance in 2006 even though she had given the Temple Rs. 1.78 crore.
A suggestion by Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, then Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s advisor, to allow non-Hindus into the Temple in order to increase Odisha’s tourism potential, sparked a significant uproar in 2011. Mohapatra was forced to retract his claim.
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