Puri Deities Finally Given Food, But Devotees Not

BY: SUN STAFF CORRESPONDENT

Apr 18, 2018 — JAGANNATHA PURI, ORISSA

Face-off between a section of servitors of Jagannath Temple and shrine administration (SJTA) that badly affected the daily rituals and forced the presiding Deities to go without food for several hours since Monday afternoon ended partly on Wednesday. Though the rituals went off smoothly and the Deities were offered bhog, Mahaprasad for the devotees continued to remain off the platters since Monday.

Law minister Pratap Jena informed the assembly here that the servitors conducted the daily rituals of the Deities smoothly on Wednesday. "We have instructed the temple's Chief Administrator to keep discussing with servitors of Suar Nijog and urge them to prepare Mahaprasad for the devotees. The government has kept a close watch on the situation," Jena said.

The temple had plunged into crisis on Monday after inordinate delay in execution of rituals affected the timing of the opening of renovated Jagamohan. While Monday's delay in conducting rituals was reportedly due to non-cooperation of a section of servitors over the Orissa high court decision to restrict their entry into the sanctum sanctorum, on Tuesday the shrine's Suar servitors, who cook Mahaprasad, stopped preparing the food for deities and devotees in protest against heavy losses incurred a day earlier. Though the Suar servitors had prepared Mahaprasad for devotees on Monday, they could not sell the food because of delay in completion of rituals of the deities.

"We will not cook Mahaprasad for devotees unless we get compensation for Monday's loss to the tune of nearly Rs 50 lakh. We have been facing frequent financial loss due to mismanagement in completion of rituals performed by different servitors," said a Suar servitor.

Temple administration said the demand of the warring servitors is unreasoned. "We have been appealing to the servitors to prepare Mahaprasad for devotees. They should respect the emotions of devotees," temple's Chief Administrator Pradeep Jena said.

The shrine administration heaved a sigh of relief as some servitors, who had on Monday reportedly delayed rituals of the Deities in protest against Orissa High Court's restrictions on their access to the sanctum sanctorum, executed the rituals smoothly on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, which saw a ceremonial puja for commencement of the construction of chariots for this year's car festival.

On Tuesday, the temple administration had assured the servitors that it would appeal to the High Court to modify its earlier order, relating to the restrictions in sanctum sanctorum.


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