White Foreigners Banned from Visiting Hindu Temple

February 27, 2006

Source: AsiaNews


On February 27, 2006 AsiaNews reported, "High caste Hindus in Nepal have banned White foreigners from entering Kathmandu's Hindu shrine of Pashupatinath (God of animals) despite government’s efforts to turn it into an important tourist attraction. On Sunday, some half a million Hindus flocked to the temple for the Hindu festival of Shivaratri. A handful of foreign tourists mingled amongst them tried to join in but were barred from entering the shrine to take part in the ceremony. This is undermining efforts by Nepal’s Tourism Department to promote the festival and the shrine in order to revive the fortunes of the local tourist sector prostrate after years of a Maoist revolt. AsiaNews spoke to some of the foreigners who were turned away. 'They won't allow us Whites to go inside saying that only Hindus can go inside,' said James Cohen, a Jew from New York who converted to Hinduism. 'I told the temple priests that I am a Hindu convert [. . .] Yet, they refused to let me go in the temple.' Mary Julian, a young woman from Britain, said that she also wanted to visit the temple even though she was a Christian. 'I was amazed to see so many people visiting this temple. So I thought to visit it too. [...] But when we tried to go inside we were told we would contaminate the Hindu god,' she said. She added she was surprised that the brochure handed out by Nepalese Tourism bureaus should 'sell' the temple to tourists as a local attraction even though 'White-skinned people are not allowed in.'"