Rashmi Rekha Das

Amid the debate over entry of foreign devotees into Jagannath temple in Puri, Jagadguru Shankaracharya Nischalananda Saraswati on Thursday said that Britain Prime Minister Rishi Sunak can visit Lord Jagannath temple in Puri.

“As Sunak is an Indian Kashmiri Brahmin, he can be allowed to enter the Jagannath temple,” he said.
Shankaracharya made this statement at Gangasagar Mela which is held at the confluence of the holy river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal and is touted to be the world’s second-largest human congregation after Kumbh.

Shankaracharya’s statement came after Odisha Governor Professor Ganeshi Lal urged Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb and the Shankaracharya to allow foreign devotees to enter Jagannath temple.

Responding to the Governor’s opinion on entry of foreign devotees into the 12th Century shrine, the Shankaracharya said, “You must be aware that Britain Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is Kashmiri Brahmin. He along with his wife can pay visits to Jagannath temple but he cannot worship. Even Prime Minister cannot make puja on his own. Servitors will help them in doing the puja. Be it Prime Minister or Governor, nobody is allowed to play with the temple’s norms.”

Earlier in the day, while attending the inaugural function of Odisha Vision 2036 Conclave, Odisha Governor stated that devotees can meet Puri Gajapati, Adi Shankaracharya and servitors. Then, they should not be debarred from meeting Lord Jagannath inside the temple, he had said.