US student detained at Jagannath temple for violating temple norms
Two persons, including an American national, were detained at the Sri Jagannath temple today, where non Hindus are not allowed entry, officials said.india Updated: Dec 28, 2010 19:13 IST
Two persons, including an American national, were detained at the Sri Jagannath temple on Tuesday, where non Hindus are not allowed entry, officials said.
Katie Leonard, a 23 year old American student and her classmate, Gourab Sarangi of Sambalpur, persuing their PhD in Physics in USA, entered the 12th century temple to catch a glimpse of the presiding deities. As the US student was dressed in traditional attire and covered her head, she was not recognised as a foreigner at the high security Singhadwar, they said.
After a glimpse of the 'Parswadevatas', they entered inside for darshan of the presiding deities -- Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra -- where they were spotted by the priests.
The rituals at the temple came to a standstill after the priests and temple police took the two to the Singhadwar police station for questioning, the officials said.
Both pleaded they were unaware of the restriction on non Hindus in the temple. "We didn't know the restrictions here, otherwise, we wouldn't have entered. We visited other pilgrim places including the Samaleswari temple at Sambalpur, but did not face any problem," Sarangi said.
Debi Prasad Panda, administrator, Neeti (Rituals), of the temple administration later said the two entered the temple "unintentionally."
After interrogation they would be handed over to the temple administration which would, in all probability, let them off with a nominal fine for violating temple rules, police said.