Puri Priests Demand Revocation of Ban Order
BY: SUN STAFF CORRESPONDENT
May 27, 2012 JAGANNATHA PURI, ORISSA Taking a cue from the Kalighat temple in Kolkata, the priests of Jagannath Temple in Puri demanded immediate revocation of the restriction on entry of pilgrims into the 12th century sanctum sanctorum.
To streamline daily rituals, the shrine administration clamped restriction on the entry of pilgrims into the sanctum sanctorum nearly two months ago. Currently devotees are allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum only for two hours in morning, starting around 8.30am, even though the routine darshan of the Deities by standing outside the sanctum sanctorum remains unchanged. Prior to the restriction, devotees were visiting the sanctum sanctorum eight times a day.
Now, a May 21 Supreme Court decision relating to Kalighat temple came as a shot in the arm of the Puri temple priests, who were fumed over the ‘sanctum sanctorum' bar. The Apex court stayed a Calcutta high court order banning the entry of devotees into sanctum sanctorum of
the famed Kalighat shrine.
"The Apex court's ruling is considered as final verdict. The Jagannath Temple administration should also abide by the SC order and not prevent devotees from having close glimpse of the reigning Deities," priest Bhagaban Mohapatra said.
"Going by the temple record of right (RoR), devotees should be allowed inside sanctum sanctorum thrice a day on parimanik tickets. The temple should also coordinate with different priests' associations for smooth functioning of the daily rituals," Mohapatra said.
Jagannath Sena, a local social outfit, which earlier filed petition in Orissa High Court against the "entry restriction", said the Kalighat temple decision would help it win the case. "We will bring the SC judgment on Kalighat temple to the notice of the Revenue Divisional Commissioner and temple officials," Sena leader Priyadarshan Pattnaik said.
The Sena activists on Sunday burnt an effigy of the state law minister Bikram Keshari Arukh and demanded that pilgrims be allowed inside sanctum sanctorum.
Temple officials said an overcrowded sanctum sanctorum often led to inordinate delays in completion of rituals of the presiding sibling Deities—Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. The temple administration enforced the restriction in compliance with the recent recommendations
by justice P K Mohanty's inquiry commission, that was set up to probe the November 4, 2006 stampede inside the Jagannath Temple. The commission then found that the stampede stemmed from the heavy presence of pilgrims in the sanctum sanctorum, sources said. Four pilgrims were killed and scores injured in the mishap.
"The reform was imperative as presence of pilgrims in sanctum sanctorum was delaying the completion of rituals," said temple's Public Relations Officer, Laxmidhar Pujapanda. More than 50,000 pilgrims (only Hindus) visit Jagannath Temple on a given day.