Leading members of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other nationalist groups have filed a complaint against the administration of a Hindu temple in Tamil Nadu for allowing a group of Catholic nuns to visit the site, this according to The Hindu, one of India’s foremost daily newspapers. According to the plaintiffs, the presence of nuns in their religious attire in a Hindu place of worship hurt the religious feelings of Hindu believers and was meant to mock the temple’s sanctity.
The complaint was filed by Sethu Aravind, a member of the BJP state executive committee, and representatives of militant Hindu fundamentalist movements: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Hindu Alaya Meetpu Iyakkam and Anaithu Hindu Iyakkam.
The incident occurred on 8 May at the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, an island in the city of Tiruchirappalli. The nuns were part of a group of tourists from Kerala. The visit sparked the fury of the radicals when their social media began spreading the rumour that the nuns had taken rosaries out of their pockets and started to pray inside the Hindu temple.
Pictures of the nuns were posted on online messaging platforms showing them walking near the Thousand Pillar Mandapam, a theatre like structure made from granite.
Following the publication of the images, some devotees criticised the temple administration and filed a complaint with the Srirangam police. “The temple of Srirangam in Tiruchirappalli is one of the temples which does not permit Christians to enter,” said Fr Sebastian Michael, adviser to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“Even today, in a globalised world, it is their right not to permit people from other religions. We cannot go against their belief,” he added.
“Despite this, we continue to believe in dialogue. There is a lot of good will and cooperation between religions. Many Hindu religious leaders invite us to their religious meetings and we do the same,” he noted.