Bhubaneswar, October 2 (LocalWire): Kasturba Gandhi’s visit to Jagannath Temple in Puri during the late thirties had deeply upset Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation.
The incident, as an eminent historian narrates, occurred in 1938 when the Mahatma was camping at Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath and he was angry because the 12th-century holy shrine was then out of bounds for Harijans.
“So long as the doors of Jagannath Temple are closed for the Harijans, it is closed to me as well,” Mahatma Gandhi is believed to have said.
“How could Kasturba go there after having lived with me for fifty years,” an angry Mahatma Gandhi is believed to have said, according to eminent writer and researcher of Gandhian ideology Ramachandra Guha.
In his book ‘Gandhi: The years that changed the world’, Guha has written that the Mahatma had taken a strong exception to his wife’s visit to the temple at a time when the Harijans were disallowed from entering it.
An enraged Gandhi had stopped talking to Kasturba and had chastised his personal secretary Mahadev Desai for facilitating Kasturba’s visit to the temple.
While Harijans now have access to the Puri Jagannath temple, non-Hindus are still prohibited from gaining access to the holy shrine.
In the past, there were several instances of VVIPs being disallowed from entering into the temple.
Prominent among them is the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She was stopped from entering the temple during the eighties on the ground that she had got married to Firoze Gandhi, a Persian.
Similarly, the Queen of Thailand Mahachakri Siridharan had evinced interest to visit the temple in 2005 but was denied entry as she was a non-Hindu.
There have also been instances of non-Hindus who have generously donated to the temple being barred from entering the temple.