Maratha outfits have expressed displeasure over the administration of the famous Tulja Bhavani temple in Maharashtra's Tuljapur purportedly denying entry to former Rajya Sabha MP Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati, a direct descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, inside the sanctum sanctorum after the stipulated time.
The Tulja Bhavani Temple Trust in the Osmanabad district said that as per the Nizam era 'Deul-e-Qawayat' Act, after performing 'abhishek' (special ritual) to goddess Tulja Bhavani, no one is allowed to remain inside the sanctum (where the idol of the goddess is placed), barring the main priest.
"Sambhajiraje came to the temple around 9.30 pm on Monday and expressed his wish to enter the sanctum sanctorum. However, he was told by the temple administration that since the 'abhishek' was already performed, no one is allowed to go inside," Yogita Kolhe, tehsildar and the management administrator at the temple trust, told PTI on Tuesday.
The temple administration clarified that there was no intention to show disrespect to Sambhajiraje and issued a letter of apology for the inconvenience caused to him during his visit.
Kolhe said the temple is administered as per the provisions of the 'Deul-e-Qawayat' Act.
She added that Kolhapur Sansthan, of which Sambhajiraje is a member, traditionally has the first honour to perform the abhishek at the temple of goddess Tulja Bhavani, known as kuldevta (deity of clan) of Maharashtra.
Kolhe explained that if a person from a royal family visits the temple, abhishek is performed by that person.
"If the kin or members of the royal family are not present, their representatives perform the abhishek ritual. During the COVID-19 lockdown, when the temples were closed, the representatives of the royal family used to perform the abhishek," she explained.
Kolhe added that Sambhajiraje was told that had he come at the time of 'Abhishek puja', the special ritual would have been performed by him only.
"Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati then took the darshan from the 'Chopdar darwaja', which is hardly five feet away from the goddess' idol. Usually, all VVIP darshans take place from that door," Kolhe said.
She said members of Maratha outfits started criticising the temple trust after Sambhajiraje left the place.
Kolhe also added that instructions have been issued to the temple trust to ensure that if Sambhajiraje is scheduled to visit the temple, the abhishek puja should be scheduled as per his time of arrival.
Despite repeated attempts, Sambhajiraje could not be reached for a reaction.
Meanwhile, some Maratha outfits criticised the temple trust over the incident.
"We condemn the temple trust for denying entry to Sambhajiraje Chhatrapati into the sanctum of the temple. Such action by the temple trust is shameful," said a functionary of Maratha Thok Morcha.
Another functionary wondered what would be the attitude of the temple trust towards the common man coming for darshan at Tuljapur.