Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Jul 27:
In an incident that could bring fresh trouble for the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) from the Odisha High Court for violation of its order issued last year banning devotees from touching the deities, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mukul Roy and five of his family members were Sunday seen touching the idol of Lord Balabhadra during the pahandi of the Lord from the Sri Gundicha temple to the Taladhwaja chariot.
Roy and five of his family members were seen touching Lord Balabhadra’s idol during the pahandi of the Lord for the Bahuda Yatra (Return Car Festival) on Sunday. Reports said a servitor allegedly helped Roy and his family in touching the idol of the deity before it was installed atop the chariot.
A servitor was also seen taking a woman devotee near Lord Jagannath’s idol during the pahandi. However, it was not clear whether the woman devotee had touched Lord Jagannath’s idol or not.
The situation turned chaotic when ordinary devotees noticed Roy and his family members inside the cordoned area at Saradhabali. Devotees expressed resentment on violation of the High Court for VVIPs.
Roy however, expressed ignorance about the temple order against touching of deities. “I had no idea about the ban on touching deities. Had I been aware of it, I would not have violated it. I am a disciplined devotee of Lord Jagannath,” Roy told media persons.
Sources said the TMC MP, who has been sidelined by TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, had come to Puri to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath.
Sources said a report sought by Bannerjee from the West Bengal State Intelligence Branch has hinted at Roy floating a new party.
The SJTA has banned touching of deities and mounting of chariots during the nine-day long annual Rath Yatra since last year following High Court orders. The High Court had ordered the temple administration to implement the recommendation of the Govardhan Peeth Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, who had had recommended a complete ban on devotees touching the deities and mounting the chariots.
Responding to the alleged volition SJTA chief administrator Suresh Mohapatra said: “I have received the complaint. I will examine it.”
Daitapati servitor and Badagrahi (body protector) of Lord Jagannath’s idol Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, however, batted for Roy. “So many devotees are coming here to pay respects. If someone touches the deities out of devotion, it should be considered as a matter of pride for us. The restriction imposed is not good from the spiritual point view,” he said.
Mohapatra was recently served with a show cause notice by the SJTA as he did not prevent a woman devotee from climbing Lord Jagannath’s chariot on July 20. The SJTA has suspended a Pratihari sevayat (servitor) Artatrana Pratihari for the incident while asking the district collector and SP to investigate the matter.