Arunima Sinha, the first female amputee to scale Mount Everest, was denied entry into the sanctum sanctorum of the Mahakal temple here as she did not adhere to the dress code, temple authorities said Tuesday. Sinha had alleged on Monday her disability was mocked at when she visited the temple recently, prompting the state’s Women and Child Development Minister Archana Chitnis to order an inquiry, reports news agency PTI.
Sinha, a former national-level volleyball player, had said she felt “greater pain” while visiting the temple than climbing the Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak at 8,848 metres. “According to the temple tradition, only women wearing sarees and men in dhotis are allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum during the bhasma aarti in the morning,” the temple administrator, Avdhesh Sharma, said.
A video footage of the mountaineer, captured on closed circuit cameras, showed her wearing a tracksuit. Sharma said generally those not wearing dhoti or saree are allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum but not during the ‘bhasma aarti’, which is performed every morning, in accordance with the tradition.
When Sinha visited the temple at 4:30 a.m. on December 24, she was informed about the tradition by the priests and security personnel. He also said the entry during the ‘bhasma aarti’ is pre-booked and that Sinha visited the temple at a short notice. Sinha, however, pointed out that the CCTV footage also showed a man entering the restricted area wearing jeans.
“Not allowing a person wearing jeans or pants in the sanctum sanctorum is wrong. In the footage, a man is seen entering the restricted area wearing jeans. Why was I not allowed? Only because I am a disabled woman? I am a devotee of Lord Shankar,” she said. The 29-year-old mountaineer also said she did not intend to seek an apology over the incident.
Recounting her experience, she had earlier said her disability was mocked at when she visited the temple. “I am very sorry to tell you that I felt greater pain in visiting Mahakal temple (at Ujjain) than scaling the Everest. My disability was mocked at there (at Mahakal),” Sinha had tweeted on Monday.
She had also tagged the Prime Minister’s Office and the Madhya Pradesh chief minister’s office in her tweet. Sinha was pushed out of a running train by robbers in April, 2011, while resisting a robbery attempt. One of her legs had to be amputated below the knee after the incident.