25 March 2007

Tainted grub

Above: A sign in the Meenakshi temple in Madurai

The following article was published in The Hindu on 3 March 2007:

Food buried in pit as American enters Jagannath temple

Special Correspondent

BHUBANESWAR: Food worth several lakhs meant as offering to deities at the Jagannath temple in Puri was buried on Friday morning following the entry there of an American national.

Engineer Paul F. Roediger, who came to the holy town along with two Hindus, got into the temple without knowing about entry restrictions. The servitors raised a hue and cry over his entry, thereby disturbing the rituals.

Mr. Roediger, who was detained by the police for nearly three hours, was allowed to go only after he paid a fine of Rs.209.

The food (Bada Bhog) was buried in a pit in a garden close to the temple. The temple premises were purified before the rituals resumed in the afternoon.

As per the practice in the 12th century temple, only Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists of Indian origin or neighbouring countries are allowed entry.

First such incident

According to temple officials, this was the first incident in the history of the temple, where Bada Bhog was destroyed because of the entry of a person belonging to a different faith.

According to sources, some foreign nationals were allowed entry way back in 1959 and 1960, but with permission from the Maharaja of Puri.

Indira Gandhi was also denied entry as she had married a Parsi.

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