Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Jajpur, Feb 18:
Palpable tension prevailed in Takuathenga village under Kuakhia police station limits in Odisha’s Jajpur district after over 50 Dalits were denied entry to the worship area in the newly-built Shaivite shrine in the village on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri on Tuesday.
While people across the country observed Maha Shivratri yesterday, the Takuathenga villagers too were equally excited to perform the rituals with pomp and gaiety as it is the only Shaivite shrine in the hamlet.
However, members of the Dalit community, who descended on the temple to pay obeisance to the Lord, were deprived of their rights as they were not allowed to step inside the temple since afternoon.
People from Dalit community had been making a beeline to the shrine with offerings in their hands since late in the afternoon for a glimpse of the deity, but a sense of disappointment was writ large on their faces after they were denied entry.
Following this, tension prevailed in the region prompting the temple authorities to shut the entry door.
The Mukteshwar temple, Lord Shiva as the presiding deity, was inaugurated on February 15. Dalits of the village were prevented from participating in the rituals on that occasion too.
The villagers, however, sought to play down the incident. The temple had been closed as the priest was unavailable and digging was underway in the central area of the temple, the villagers said.
Till late in the evening, the yagna rituals could not be performed and darshan of the Lord was closed for the public.
Kuakhai police, the local sarpanch, Zilla Parishad member and others held discussions to diffuse the situation.
Earlier, there was no temple in their village for which the local populace, mainly Dalits, had to visit nearby Nuahat, Nathuabara, and Korakora villages to perform pujas.
With the denial of entry to the shrine, the Dalits have sought intervention of district administration to evolve a permanent solution to this situation.