Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 21:
The Sri Jagannath temple administration in Odisha is worried over the scarcity in the supply of Kasturi, or musk, which is an important requirement for rituals associated with the annual Rath Yatra festival.
The “pure and natural Kasturi ” used for the Rath Yatra rituals has always come as a customary gift from Nepal’s Hindu king, who has had an institutional and longstanding relationship with not only the Sri Jagannath temple but also the grand annual event in Puri.
However, the fall of the institution of monarchy in the Himalayan country has put an end to the centuries old practice.
Musk is obtained from a gland of the male musk deer which are a gravely endangered species and is banned item in India. The substance has been used as a popular perfume fixative since ancient times and is one of the most expensive animal products in the world
Unable to procure it from any other source, the Odisha government has now sought the intervention of the Centre in the matter and written to the Union Foreign secretary to help procure musk from Nepal because it is a banned item in India.
The last time that the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) received ‘kasturi’ from the Nepal royal family was in 2002 and the stock has been completely exhausted, said sources.
The three deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are painted with an aromatic paste of herbs with a dose of kasturi in it during the Rath Yatra, sources in the SJTA said.
” Kasturi is mixed with a number of herbs to produce an aromatic paste with which the three deities are anointed during Rath Yatra.
Earlier, Kasturi was received free of cost from the Nepal royal family as a token of its devotion and gratitude for Lord Jagannath. The temple administration is prepared to buy it if the present Nepal government refuses to donate it, ” said an official of the SJTA.
However, animal rights activists say the centuries old practice of using the natural “kasturi’ must end because it constitutes cruelty to an endangered species and argue in favour of the use of synthetic musk which is available in plenty in the market worldwide.