Greenbelt Interfaith News
    World Brief

    July 31, 1997

    Indian Hindus Killed in Temple Fire

    A Hindu temple in southern India became the scene of a tragedy on June 7 when a fire broke out on the eve of a major religious ceremony. At least 40 Hindu worshipers died in the fire, The Hindu newspaper reported, while about 90 more were injured. According to the French news service AFP, the fire at Brihadeeswara Temple ("Big Temple") in the town of Thanjavur may have been caused by a spark from a sacrificial fire in the middle of the complex.

    The temple is dedicated to the god Shiva, and the Indian news service PTI reported that a priest heard people crying "Shiva, Shiva" as they lay dying on the ground. The worshipers had gathered to celebrate Kumbabhishekam, a ceremony to consecrate a new tower at the temple. The 11th-century temple, which has been declared a world heritage monument by the United Nations, was not seriously injured.

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    ©1997 Heather Elizabeth Peterson