Hindu Leader Not Allowed in Festival


August 20, 2008

HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - In a hearing Wednesday afternoon, a Hays County judge denied a Hindu leader's request to attend Janmashtmi, one of the greatest celebrations of the Hindu community on Aug. 23. Prakashanand Saraswati, also known as Shree Swamiji or Swami Ji, was charged with 20 counts of indecency with a child back in May.

According to the indictments, Saraswati was accused of groping two girls younger than 17. He was charged with 10 counts of indecency with each girl. Court documents stated the indecency incidents happened twice a month over six months, dating back to 1993.

Saraswati, 79, founded the Barsana Dham temple in Hays County in 1993.

After posting a $10 million bond, District Judge Charles Ramsay allowed Saraswait to leave the country. However, Saraswait has not been allowed to return to his home or office, which are both at the Barsana Dham temple in Hays County.

Dozens of Saraswati's supporters attended Wednesday's hearing. Two members of his congregation took the stand and told the judge his absence at the temple affects their ability to practice their religion.

Saraswati's attorney plans on filing a request for the judge to reconsider his decision and allow his client to attend Saturday's celebrations. A spokesperson for the Barsana Dham temple said Janmashtami in is equivalent to Christmas in the Christian religion.


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