Chaos in Puri Jagannath temple continues

Puri: Amid the ongoing agitation of the Suar servitors, who prepare Mahaprasad at the Jagannath Temple here, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Chief Administrator Pradeep Kumar Jena on Tuesday appealed to the agitating servitors to cooperate in the smooth conduct of temple rituals.

The Chief Administrator also asked the aggrieved servitors to put forth their grievances before Orissa High court.

Due to the delay in rituals since Monday, the sibling deities-Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra have not been offered prasad and even not allowed to sleep on Monday night in deviation of the age-old rituals of the 12th century shrine. And due to delay in completion of the rituals, the Mahaprasad could not be offered to the deities and remained unsold. And the servitors are now staging agitation demanding compensation for the same.

The cook community on Tuesday continued their dharna in front of the demanding compensation for the losses incurred due to wastage of the Mahaprasad because of delay in temple rituals on Monday.

Notably, the rituals which were to be performed ahead of Jagamohan reopening on Monday was for hours after the one ‘Palia’ servitor supposed to perform the puja at the sanctum sanctorum failed to turn up due to the death of one of his relatives.

As the Orissa High Court recently allowed the Palia servitors to enter the sanctum sanctorum no other servitors entered. This led to delay in serving of morning bhog to the deities that was served around 4 pm leading to the wastage of the afternoon.

Demanding Rs 50 lakh compensation from the SJTA, the members of Suar and Mahasuar communities started a dharna near the temple on Monday night demanding compensation for the losses incurred by them.

They even threatened not to prepare bhog on Tuesday if they are not compensated. According to sources, the bhog that was prepared on Monday continues to be in the temple kitchen even on Tuesday instead of being buried in Koili Baikuntha as per the age-old tradition.

Meanwhile the SJTA Chief Pradeep Jena has appealed to the servitors to cooperate in smooth conduct of the temple rituals. He also requested them to put forth their stand before the Orrisa High Court.

“Deities should not be allowed to suffer by anyone. I appeal to servitors to cooperate in timely conduct of rituals of deities. Whatever grievances they have, they should place the same before the High Court,” said Jena.

On April 10, the Orissa HC directed the SJTA to re-open the Jagamohan for devotees by April 16.

A bench of Chief Justice Vineet Saran and Justice B R Sarangi directed the 12th century shrine administration to file a compliance report by April 19 after re-opening the Jagamohan. The Jagamohan has been kept out of bounds for devotees since 2016 when Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the custodian of the shrine, took up its repair works.

Besides, the HC while approving one of the recommendations mentioned by Justice B P Das Commission, formed for bringing in reforms in the shrine, directed that no one other than the palia servitors who have rituals to perform inside ‘Garbha Gruha’ will be allowed beyond into it.

However, the servitors are opposing the ban on the entry of servitors to the sanctum sanctorum.

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