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Controversy over 'darshan' in Sri Jagannath temple

June 02, 2012 21:24 IST

Top government officials on Saturday visited the Sri Jagannath temple in Odisha following a controversy between the temple administration and servitors of the shrine over 'darshan' of the deities.

In protest against the temple managing committee's decision not to allow devotees in the sanctum sanctorum, over 1000 protesters, under the banner of Srimandir Surakshya Manch, forcibly entered the temple defying the ban on Friday.

In the melee, an employee of the temple was injured after being allegedly attacked by the protestors.

The administrator (Rituals) D P Panda lodged a police complaint on Friday based on which cases were registered against the convenor of Sri Jagannath Sena Pridarshan Patnaik and 100 others. However, no arrest was made in this connection so far, sources said.

State Chief Secretary B K Patnaik, the chief temple administrator Arabinda Padhee, district Collector Arabinda Agarwal and the SP Anup Sahoo visited the temple on Saturday and talked to the agitators to restore normalcy.

The protestors on Friday alleged that though they had given prior notice to forcibly enter the temple, none of the senior officials like the chief administrator, the collector and the SP Anup Sahoo was present in the town.

As per the Sri Jagannath Temple Act, 1957, it is the responsibility of Temple administration to execute the decision of the Managing Committee in which the chief temple administrator, a commissioner rank officer of the state government, functions as secretary.

The managing committee had decided a few months ago not to allow devotees during "Sahana Mela" (free darshan for all in the sanctum sanctorum) or "Paramanik" (ticket) darshan, temple sources said.

The temple administration had partially implemented the decision since March 21 by allowing devotees up to "Ratna Sihansan" (the sanctum sanctorum of the temple) during "Sahana Mela" but not to the "Paramanik" ticket holders leading to discontent among the servitors.

Demanding withdrawal of the new system almost all 'Nijogs' (associations) of servitors of the temple had moved the chief temple administrator.

Sri Mandir Surakshya Manch had also warned that if the temple administration failed to restore the old system by June 1, they would forcibly enter the temple.

The head of the Puspalaka Nijog, Talucha Bhagaban Mohapatra had appealed to the chief administrator to follow the recent Supreme Court interim order issued in case of the Kalighat temple at Kolkata.

While issuing notices to the Centre, West Bengal government and Kalighat temple, the apex court had said that the darshan of the deities in East and North India is separate from that of South India, he said.

While in South India, the devotees do the darshan from a distance, in East and North India they do so by touching the feet of the deities.

Meanwhile, the "Singhadwar" (Lion's Gate) of the temple reopened today after it remained closed for about two weeks for repair of its "Gumuta" (ceiling).
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