Puri: Fifty-year-old New Yorker Paul Roediger never imagined that his visit to the Jagannath temple in Puri would end up at the police station.
He entered the temple for a darshan on Thursday. However, it wasn’t easy for him to come out. He was caught mid-way by the sevayats (servents of The God) who later brought him to the police station.
The reason- non-Hindus are debarred from entering the temple.
"If we do not uphold the great tradition of Lord Jagannath by maintaining the purity of the temple, then the temple will loose its dignity,” said a sevayat, Baladev Singari.
The American was detained for five hours and was finally let off after paying a fine of Rs 219 to the temple administration. However, Roediger still seems to be in the dark as to why he was treated this way.
"It was like an entrance fee or something I guess. I was not aware of the rules for entering into the temple,” said Roediger.
The temple authorities took this matter very seriously. The entire temple was given a mahasnana, and 'Mahaprasad' worth lakhs of rupees were dumped into the ground.
However, some devotees think that tradition is outdated.
"If we Hindus can go to churches and mosques then why not allow non Hindus into the temple?" said a devotee, G Ghosh.
This is not the first time that the entry of non-Hindus and Dalits into an Orissa temple has led to a controversy. But despite several demands, the government is not able to change the age-old tradition.