Special Correspondent

Controversy over entry of US national

  • Food offering meant for the deities destroyed
  • The foreigner had to pay a fine of Rs. 209

    BHUBANESWAR: In an unprecedented incident, food worth several lakhs of rupees meant for holy offering to the deities of the Lord Jagannath temple in Puri was buried on Friday following the entry of an American national into the temple on Thursday afternoon.

    An American engineer, Paul F Roediger, who had come to the holy town along with two Indian Hindus, had entered the temple, unaware of the entry restrictions of the temple.

    However, the servitors of the temple who had spotted him within the temple complex, had raised a hue and cry over his entry, affecting the rituals of the temple.

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

    The rituals of the temple were badly hit as the servitors did not offer the food (Bada Bhog) that was cooked to be offered to the deities on Thursday.

    Purification

    The food, worth lakhs of rupees, was buried in a pit in a garden close to the temple on Friday morning.

    The temple premises were purified before the rituals resumed in the afternoon.

    As per the temple practice, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists of Indian origin or neighbouring countries are allowed entry into the 12th century temple and not those belonging to any other faith.

    First incident

    According to temple officials, this was the first such incident to happen in the temple history when the 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 into the temple premises way back in 1959 and 1960, but with permission from the Maharaja of Puri.

    The late former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had also been denied entry into the temple as she had married a Parsi.