Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Jun 10:

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA’s) decision yesterday not to allow devotees to touch the deities during the forthcoming Debasnana Purnima rituals on June 20 has led to severe discontentment among the Daitapati sevayats.

Snana Mandap

The decision to debar devotees from touching the idols during the Debasnana Purnima bathing rituals of the Lords was taken at the Niti Samanya Committee (ritual coordination committee) meeting of the Shree Jagannath temple in Odisha’s Puri yesterday.

The meeting was attended by president and secretaries of 11 nijogs (temple servitor bodies). However, the office bearers of Daitapati Nijog were not invited to the meeting.

Daitapatis have opposed the decision as it has been taken without taking their opinion on the matter.

“Devotees wait with eagerness for the special occasion in the month of Asadha for the Rath Yatra to climb atop chariots and touch or hug their supreme Lord. Since the last two years, this has been forbidden. The only opportunity for devotees to touch the Lords was during Debsnana Purnima at the snana mandap (bathing altar). Now suddenly we came to know from the television that this too has been banned. They have not discussed the matter with our Nijog on this account,” said Premananda Das Mohapatra, a senior Daitapati.

“Devotees interest is the foremost priority. This decision has been taken without consulting Daitapatis. Tomorrow a meeting of the Daitapati Nijog will be held. All these issues will be discussed at tomorrow’s meeting. We will present our arguments when the chief administrator SJTA calls us for a meeting. Tradition and practices as followed for years together will be maintained,” said Binayak Das Mohapatra, another senior Daitapati.

Daitapati servitors are believed to be the descendants of the legendary tribal king Biswabasu and first worshipper of Lord Jagannath and are said to be kin of the Lord.