Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 15:
If you thought the privileges that come with being a politician in Odisha – as in the rest of the country – are left behind when they enter the religious arena, you are horribly, completely wrong. What happened the other day at the place where the daru for Lord Jagannath was identified bears ample testimony to this.
Thousands of devotees had gathered at Kharipadia, the location of the daru of Lord Jagannath, on Wednesday to have a glimpse of the sacred log that would metamorphose into the idol of Lord Jagannath after necessary carving and infusion of Brahma into it at Shree Mandir on Rath Yatra eve this July.
At around 4.15 PM, a police jeep blowing its siren piloted a beacon flashing car through the crowd of devotees and screeched to a halt right near the enclosure where the choupata (resizing of the daru) work on Lord Jagannath’s mahadaru was in progress. Excise Minister Damodar Rout, School & Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra and Derabis MLA Debasish Nayak alighted from the car and were welcomed and greeted by the Daitapatis as police cordoned off the area. Some overwhelmed Daitapatis took the three political leaders, including the two ministers, inside the enclosure where the choupata work was in progress while the Jagatsinghpur collector waited outside. The trio stayed inside the enclosure for 10/15 minutes.
Choupata work is considered a secret ritual of the Lord and public are prohibited from viewing it. To keep the process out of public view, the mahadaru is covered on all four sides by a wall made of cloth. The practice was followed during the choupata process of darus of Lord Sudarshan, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath, which deprived thousands of devotees from having darshan on the darus.
Allowing the three leaders to have darshan of the daru while the choupata process was very much on has been resented by devotees with many of them raising questions on the secrecy of the ritual. People have questioned:”Are politicians and ministers above the rules and norms?”
School & Mass Education Minister Debiprasad Mishra sought to make light of the whole thing, saying; “We are humans first and then ministers. We are all devotees of Lord Jagannath. When we had entered the enclosure, the choupata work was not in progress. We have done nothing wrong.”
On the other hand, MLA Debasish Nayak has said that he had not gone near the place where the choupata work was in progress.