Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, June 15:
With only two weeks to go for the world famous Rath Yatra in Odisha’s temple town of Puri, the row over devotees climbing the chariots and touching the three deities between the Daitapatis (temple servitors) and the Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth intensified further on Sunday.
In a statement here, the Daitapati Nijog came down heavily on the Puri seer accusing him of running a ‘vilification campaign’ against the sevitors’ body and trying to defame the Odisha government.
“We are not going to obey the diktat of Shankaracharya, who has engaged himself in a vilification campaign in the name of religion to spoil the pristine tradition of the festival observed since ages. The seer is also trying his best to defame the Odisha government. Going by all his statements and insistence, it can be said without any doubt that there is a conspiracy to create a series of disturbances in the ensuing Rath Yatra”, Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, Mukhya Badagrahi (chief spokesperson) of Daitapati Nijog told the media today.
Fuming at the recommendation of the Puri seer to bar devotees from touching the deities atop the chariots, Mohapatra said the seer has no right to deprive the devotees of their wishes.
Taking a dig at the seer’s lop-sided view, he said; “How come the seer has no knowledge about the gross mismanagement inside the temple as the devotees are forced to take their food in the hotels due to inordinate delay in the release the prasad of the Lords?. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far such irregularities and mismanagement in the temple are concerned. The Shankaracharya, instead of looking at these, has touched the emotional chord of the devotees with his own tilted and provocative views”
“Let the Shankaracharya withdraw his decision at the earliest failing which he would not get respect from the devotees and the servitors in future”, Mohapatra made it clear.
Reacting to the statement of the Daitapati Nijog, the office of the Shankaracharya, in its counter statement, reiterated the seer’s observation that having the darshan of the Lords is a tradition, but touching them is a sin.
“The decision of the Gobardhan Peeth on this issue is final”, said Manoj Rath, spokesman of Shankaracharya in a release to the media.