Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kakatpur, Mar 18:
Sevayats (servitors) of the Maa Mangala temple, the presiding deity of Kakatpur in Odisha’s Puri district, today staged a demonstration in front of the temple here protesting the non-resolution of the dispute over their payments by the administration.
The placard waving sevayats threatened total non-cooperation during the Banajaga Yatra, perhaps the most important chapter in the long-drawn and elaborate religious exercise called the Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannath. “We would wear black badges during the Yatra if our demands are not fulfilled,” said a protesting servitor.
The Mangala Mandir Sevak Samiti had submitted a 19-point charter of demands to Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), and had held discussions with him on the demands during his visit here yesterday.
Sevayats alleged that while Mohapatra had accepted some of their demands, he had rejected their main demand of an increase in their payments.
“The chief administrator of the SJTA has completely ignored the sevayats of Kakatpur Maa Mangala temple. His refusal to listen to our demands has irked all sevayats of the Maa Mangala temple. That is why we are staging a demonstration today. We are not happy with the discussions. We Pandas (priests) will wear black badges and won’t cooperate in the rituals. We will not participate in any manner in the Nabakalebara rituals,” said Mahendra Dikshit, a visibly agitated sevayat of the Kakatpur Maa Mangala temple.
“We had held discussions with the sevayats of Maa Mangala temple. I will again go and hold discussions with them. We will sort out whatever problems are there. If the demands are reasonable, they will be certainly considered,” said Mohapatra commenting on today’s demonstration by sevayats of Maa Mangala temple.
Mohapatra made the comments at Puri while briefing the media after completion of the managing committee meeting of the Shree Jagannath temple.