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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Indian male singer in burqa row
By Narayan Bareth
BBC News, Jaipur

Himesh Reshammiya in a burqa inside a Muslim shrine
The singer had come to offer prayers (Photo: Dipak Sharma)
A popular Bollywood male singer has apologised for wearing a burqa to pray in a famous Muslim shrine in India.

Himesh Reshammiya said he was sorry if people were "offended" by his dressing as a woman to enter the Ajmer shrine.

The shrine's prayer attendants have defended the singer, saying he put the burqa on because he wanted to offer prayers without being mobbed by fans.

The shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hassan Chishti, a medieval Muslim saint, dominates the town of Ajmer.

The shrine draws followers from across India's faiths, including Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsees and Jains.

Reshammiya created a stir at the shrine on Tuesday night when some devotees spotted him in a burqa. They took it up with the prayer attendants.

'Honourable'

The singer said that he had come to offer prayers for the success of his upcoming film wearing his normal clothes.

But he changed into a burqa after he was mobbed by fans at the gate, and slipped in through a different entrance.

Chief prayer attendant Sarwar Chisti said Reshammiya's intentions had been honourable.

"He changed his dress only to avoid the crowds. He wanted to pray in peace," he said.

The singer said he apologised if anybody had felt "offended" by his action.

Last year, Bollywood starlet Katrina Kaif was criticised by devotees for entering the shrine in a skirt.




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