Ask any travel agent, globetrotter or gap-year student: the Golden Temple in Amritsar, north India, is both a site of pilgrimage for Sikhs and a must-see on any tourist’s Indian itinerary.
But India’s most famous foreign tourist, US President Barack Obama, who will tour the country next month, may have to forgo his visit.
It was supposed to be Obama’s only religious appointment on the four-day trip to India, but a politically sensitive row over the required headwear for the temple threatens to derail his plans.
According to local media reports, the president’s team has baulked at the idea of Obama wearing a headscarf or skullcap — required for any visitor to the holy site — due to fears it may feed rumours circulating about his alleged Muslim beliefs.
The sight of droves of foreign tourists sporting colourful headscarves, most provided by the temple, is as much a part of the dazzling experience as the temple itself.
Reportedly, the president’s aides proposed a modified version of Obama’s now customary baseball cap as a compromise. But sports caps fall foul of Temple regulations, placing him in a delicate position.
I’m lost for words. Speechless. Barack – get a backbone!