ABC News' Kirit Radia reports:
Reports have surfaced this week suggested President Obama may skip a visit to Amritsar’s famed Golden Temple during his during a trip to India next month over concerns that if he were to don the head covering required for entry, it might perpetuate the false rumor that he is a Muslim. Though the temple pertains to the Sikh religion (the fifth largest religion in the world), in the United States many Sikhs have been mistaken for Muslims because of the turbans they wear.
Sikhs wear five specific articles of faith at all times, known as the 5 K’s, which require them to wear a circular iron bracelet (kara), dagger (kirpan), small comb (kangha), special undergarment (kaccha), and forbids them from cutting their hair (kes).
Temple officials have apparently rejected a suggestion that the President wear a baseball cap, saying it is not an acceptable covering inside the Sikh holy site. Indeed, on a visit to the Golden Temple last year, en route to New Delhi from Islamabad, ABC’s Senior Foreign Correspondent Martha Raddatz and I did not see anyone inside with a baseball cap. Instead, I was given a scarf at the entrance in order to properly cover my head and Martha wore one she brought with her.
President Obama would also be required to wash his feet, as we did, before entering and walk around barefoot because shoes are not permitted inside.
The temple, which was built in the 16th and 17th centuries, is the holiest site for Sikhs and is an incredibly tranquil place. The dust and noise of the streets outside melt away as one enters the massive gates, giving way to the temple’s serene, clean space. Inside, the vast temple grounds surround a large pool at the center of which sits the massive Golden Temple.
The temple is a pilgrimage destination for Sikhs and has a communal charity kitchen that feeds thousands of people a day, free of charge.