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Govt imposes restrictions on entry of devotees to Jagannath temple

 Odisha government has imposed restriction on the entry of devotees including VVIPs into the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri.

The instruction in this regard was given by the Law Department to the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) based on the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry into the affairs of Sri Jagannath Temple.

"Darshan of the deities in the temple by the devotees including the VIPs shall be restricted only up to 'Bhittar Katha' (a wooden separation). None except 'Sevaks' (priests) having actual 'Seba' (ritual) in the 'Garvagruha' (sanctum sanctorum) on any particular day should be allowed into the sanctum sanctorum," the letter of the Law Department to SJTA said.

"Entry into the sanctum sanctorum during 'Paramanik Darshan' and 'Sahana Mela Darshan' (public prayer) should be stopped," the letter read.

The law department also said that the violators of the order should be heavily fined, the letter added.

The Law Department has also asked Collector and SP of Puri district to take necessary steps for implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the affairs of Sri Jagannath Temple.

The Commission of Inquiry headed by Justice BP Das had earlier submitted its interim report to Odisha government and suggested several measures to streamline affairs at the 12th Century shrine.

Meanwhile, this decision has evoked sharp reaction from the servitors. Taking strong exception to the decision, senior Daitapati servitor Binayak Dasmohapatra said the State government should have taken the servitors into confidence before issuing orders to implement this recommendation of the BP Das Commission of Inquiry. Taking some plea or other, the State government has restricted movement of the devotees including climbing onto the chariots, going near the Snana Bedi (Bathing Bay), to have Naba Jouban Darshan and Sandhya Darshan etc., he pointed out while sarcastically suggesting that if this is so, the State government should stop the annual car festival also.

“We have requested the Chief Minister through a tweeter message to reconsider the decision and allow devotees to have glimpse of the deities at least for one hour during a day without charging any fee”, said Dasmohapatra. 

Sahana Mela, opening of the wooden separation inside the sanctum sanctorum, used to take place twice daily earlier for devotees to have clear view of the deities from close proximity. Now, with imposition of the restrictions, no devotee can get the opportunity to have a closer view of the deities, he rued adding that the government has not taken the right decision to change this age old tradition inside the famous Hindu shrine.


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