Another non-Hindu faced embarrassment on the chariot of Lord Jagannath in Puri yesterday. Italy-born Odissi dancer and Padmashree award winner Ileana Citaristi was allegedly manhandled by two servitors of Jagannath temple on the chariot of Lord Jagannath at Puri when she refused to pay money.
In her complaint, Ileana said that the servitors roughed her up when she refused to pay Rs 1000 as dakshina for climbing the chariot. When she opposed, they allegedly nudged her, slapped her and banged her head.
When the erring servitors failed to extort money from her, they claimed that she was a foreigner and cannot climb the chariot. However, she was questioned when she was climbing the chariot.
It is true that non-Hindus are not allowed in Jagannath temple, but there is no such law or restriction that they cannot climb the chariots outside the temple during Rath Yatra.
After facing embarrassment, Ileana approached the temple authorities seeking strong action against the servitors.