The famous pilgrim place of Lord Shiva, the Somnath temple in Gujarat will now be off-limits for non-Hindus as authorities have decided against entry to people following other faiths without prior permission.
"Shree Somnath Jyotirling is a pilgrimage for Hindus. Non-Hindus will have to obtain permission from General Manager’s Office (of the temple) to enter the sacred pilgrim-place," said a notice put up by temple authorities at the main entrance gate.
Authorities cited security concerns and protection of ’sanctity’ of a religious place for the restriction, saying other religions do not allow non-followers to enter their sacred places. Officials gave examples of a few temples in South India which have similar rules.
The notice was put up outside the main entrance-gate of the temple on last Monday. Daily thousands of devotees from across the country visit the temple, which is very heavily protected by police.
"The decision was taken by the Somnath Trust’s secretary (P K Lahiri) two to three days ago and we put a notice accordingly," Vijaysinh Chavda, Deputy Manager of Somnath trust, told PTI.
Trustee Secretary of Somanth Temple and former IAS officer P K Lahiri told PTI, “Notice was put up after some people represented that entry needs to be regulated. I have put up that notice. Locals have noticed that non-Hindus are trying to enter and there were some issues from security-guards whether they should be allowed or not. We have decided to regulate it as per our old tradition. Security reasons are always there. Somebody said a woman with burqa was allowed while she was trying to enter. That raised the suspicion on whether non-Hindus should be checked whether they should be allowed to go and whether something will happen."
Speaking to The Indian Express, Lahiri defended the decision and said, "As Hindus, we have right to manage and maintain our religious places. It is like if you go to certain religious places, you have to cover your head. Also, there is a clause in our trust deed to regulate the entry of non-Hindus. We are merely following it more rigorously now."
Interestingly, the famous Shiva temple, located near Veraval town of Gir-Somnath district, is governed by a trustee board headed by former Gujarat Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior BJP leader LK Advani are other trustees.
When asked about reasons behind barring the entry of non-Hindus in the temple without taking permission, Chavda said the decision has been taken due to security reasons.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Jun 04, 2015 09:28:50 IST