Ahmedabad, Jun 3: In a strange move, in the famous pilgrim place of Lord Shiva, the Somnath temple in Gujarat, non-Hindus will have to take permission to enter it. Authorities have decided against entry to people following other faiths without prior permission.
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.
The notice was put up outside the main entrance-gate of the temple last Monday. Daily thousands of devotees from across the country visit the temple, which is very heavily protected by police. 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 L K Advani are other trustees.
"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, said. 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. Trustee Secretary of Somanth Temple and former IAS officer P K Lahiri said.
"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," he said.
"Security reasons are always there. Somebody said a woman with Burqa (veil worn by Muslim women) 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," he said.
(With inputs from agencies)