Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, June 26:
The simmering discontent among the daitapati servitors over the issue of barring devotees from climbing the chariots and touching the deities during the Rath Yatra in Puri, the pilgrim town of Odisha, is far more serious than it appears on the surface. It is fast snowballing into a crisis if the happenings of the last two days are any indication.
While the daitapatis, in a clear break of age old tradition, stayed away from the saree bandha ritual held on Tuesday at the royal palace of the Gajapati king citing preoccupation, they left the special meeting called by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) between them and the Special Officer in charge of the Rath Yatra and secretary of Water Resources department Suresh Mohapatra in a huff midway through the meeting on Wednesday.
After Mohapatra assumed office as the Special Officer in charge of the Rath Yatra, a closed door meeting between him and the daitapatis was held here Wednesday to discuss smooth conduct of Naba jauban darshan, Rath Yatra etc. The meeting was also attended by Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Arvind Padhee.
The daitapatis raised the issue of devotees climbing atop chariots and touching the deities The daitapatis, while welcoming the decision of the High Court at the meeting, alleged that neither the state government nor the temple administration have enlightened the court about the financial losses to be incurred by the daitapati servitors as a consequence of its verdict, which led to noisy scenes in the meeting. Tempers flared up among the daitapatis at the silence of the state government and the temple administration over the matter.
The daitapatis left the meeting after it was promised to discuss the matter pertaining to losses to daitapatis after the Rath Yatra.
Earlier in the meeting, the daitapatis had assured the administration that they would do their duties for the smooth conduct of Rath Yatra this year as per the record of rights.
After moving out of the meeting midway, the daitapatis expressed their discontentment outside alleging that nothing was solved in the meeting and that no decision was taken. Office bearers of the daitapati nijog said they had walked out of the meeting.
Daitapatis sounded a veiled warning saying the state government and the SJTA will be held responsible for any indiscipline during the Rath Yatra.
However, Special Officer in charge, Rath Yatra, Suresh Mohapatra said his meeting with the daitapatis was successful.