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ASI to open Shree Mandir Ratna Bhadar on March 26 and 27, Jagannath Sena opposes move

Puri: The Orissa High Court on Thursday allowed the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to examine the inner chambers of the Ratna Bhandar, the treasury of the deities of Shree Mandir in Puri on March 26 and 27.

An affidavit regarding the examination was submitted to the HC by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA). The next hearing has been posted on March 29.

The newly constituted Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee in its meeting on Tuesday had decided to write to the ASI to examine the status of Ratna Bhandar at the earliest.

“We are planning to repair the Nata Mandap and the Ratna Bhandar of the temple. We want to ensure that the treasury is in safe condition. To be able to do so, we will make an inventory of the gold ornaments kept there. There is a sub-committee to look after the ratna bhandar. The treasury will be opened in front of the sub-committee,” said Temple chief administrator P.K. Jena.

Protesting the move, hundreds of Jagannath Sena activists staged dharna in front of the Singhadwara of the Jagannath temple.

“The SJTA is attempting to explore the details of treasury of the temple in the name of inspection and we strongly oppose such move,” alleged Jagannath Sena Convenor Priyadarshan Patnaik.

It will be the fourth attempt by the temple management in the last 40 years to open the inner chambers of the treasury. The first attempt of the recent past was made in 1978 and subsequent attempts were made in 1992 and 2014. However, all the attempts had ended in a failure.

During the first attempt in 1978, workers feared to enter inside the chambers hearing hissing of snakes. The other two attempts could not be successful due to protest of the servitors.

Sources said precious gold and silver jewellery and gems, including pearls and diamonds, of lord Jagannath, goddess Subhadra and lord Balabhadra are stored in the treasury.

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