Controversy Over Tourism Minister\'s Visit to Tirumala Temple
TIRUPATI: The visit of tourism minister R.K. Roja to the Lord Venkateswara temple in Tirumala raised a row on Thursday over the sanctity of the temple's religious regulations.
The issue arose when Roja's personal photographer, identified as Steyn, was spotted wearing some religious accessories associated with a faith other than Hinduism while standing in front of the main temple.
Tirumala is renowned for its strict adherence to rules and regulations meant to maintain the temple's sanctity and uphold its religious significance. Among these regulations is a prohibition on individuals wearing ornaments or accessories associated with religions other than Hinduism. This rule is strictly enforced to ensure the temple's sanctity and maintain its religious traditions.
Minister Roja undertook the pilgrimage to the Tirumala temple during a VIP break slot for darshan and prayers. As she entered the temple, her personal photographer, Steyn, was positioned at Golla Mandapam, in front of the Mahadwaram.
Someone noticed Steyn wearing the non-Hindu religious locket, and recorded a video, which subsequently went viral on social media platforms. This led to widespread criticism.
The Jana Sena party voiced concern over the rule violation. Kiran Royal, a Jana Sena leader, stated, "The Tirumala temple holds deep religious significance for millions of devotees. Any action that compromises its sanctity should not be tolerated. Roja must issue an unconditional apology to Hindu devotees."
When contacted, minister Roja condemned the opposition's campaign against her. She said her personal photographer Steyn, a Christian, has accompanied her on numerous visits to Tirumala, all driven by faith in Lord Venkateswara Swamy.
"Those who work with me come from various religious backgrounds. Despite being non-Hindus, they visited Tirumala with me numerous times, all in reverence to Lord Venkateswara. Unfortunately, the opposition and its sponsored media are making an issue out of this," she said.