Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Jun 22:
The community feast planned for lakhs of devotees to mark the 13th day of the burial of the old idols of Lord Jagannath and His siblings, was cancelled apparently due to donations to the 12th century shrine in Odisha’s pilgrim town of Puri falling short of expectation.
In a departure from earlier practices, a community feast was to be organised outside the temple premises for the first time this year. The Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and the servitors’ association (Daitapati Nijog) had decided in a meeting to offer Mahaprasad (cooked food of the Lord) to devotees from Simha Dwara (Lion’s Gate) to Marichakot Square along Bada Danda (Grand Road) on June 27 to mark the 13th day of the burial of the old idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra and Sudarshan.
The meeting had decided to raise the money to be spent on the feast from donations. For this, the temple administration had appealed to interested persons and institutions to deposit their donations in favour of Administrator, Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri either in the account No- 491711730 of lndian Bank (IFSC Code- IDIB000P057) or donate the money at Shree Jagannath Temple Office, Puri, Information Centres of Shree Jagannath Temple at Singhadwar and Bhubaneswar (outside Jaydev Bhawan).
Though remittances to the temple accounts had begun, the President of the Daitapati Niyog Association Rama Krushna Das Mohapatra on Friday abruptly announced that there will be no community feast and it will be organised only for a limited number of people in the temple premises, fuelling speculation about the deepening rift between the temple administration and servitors’ bodies over the delay in Brahma Parivartan (soul transfer) of the deities.
“The community feast has been cancelled due to space constraint on the Grand Road in view of the ongoing chariot construction of the Lords. Besides, the inclement weather is not favourable to organise such a big event,” Das Mohapatra told OST.
On the other hand, SJTA Chief Administrator Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said, there were chances of Mahaprasad spilling over to the ground as people were to sit on the ground for the feast. That would have been an insult to Mahaprasad, he said.
Now, the question is: didn’t the SJTA and the Daitapati Nijog know about these contentious issues before they decided on the feast?
“The SJTA was optimistic of raising huge money as donations. However, the collections fell short of the expectations as a result of which they decided to call off the mass feast,” a senior servitor of the Lord Jagannath told OST, on the condition of anonymity.
Skirting the queries on the amount of donation received so far, the Temple administrator said: “Eighty percent of the donations received will go to the Daitapati Nijog, who can utilise the fund on the feast to be offered to a limited people on the temple premises.”
“As far as my knowledge goes, donations to the tune of Rs 3-4 lakh have been received till now. These donations have been routed through me. As very little time is left for the 13th day rituals of the burial of the old idols of Lord Jagannath and His siblings, the flow of donation is unlikely to rise significantly. Besides, who is going to part with such huge contribution for this community feast?” Rama Krushna Das Mohapatra asked.