Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 25:
For the second time in the last one week, Gajapati King Dibyasingh Dev put the ball squarely in the court of the Odisha government on Wednesday over the bungling in the Brahma Parivartan ritual of the deities and management of the affairs of the Jagannath Temple at large.
“It is only the state government, which has all the powers and resources at its command, which can set the affairs of the temple right,” the Gajapati King told media persons during an interaction at his residence here in the afternoon.
Soon after the Brahma Parivartan fiasco last week, the Gajapati King had made a veiled criticism of the state government when, replying to a question if he would talk to the Chief Minister about the irregularities during the all important ritual, he said; “He is the head of the government. Doesn’t he already know about it?”
Giving a history of the temple and the changing roles of the royal family, Dev said after Independence, the Gajapati has been reduced to just an ordinary citizen, who has no powers to do anything about the improprieties and the violations of traditions being committed in the temple.
“The rights of the Gajapati king were abolished in 1803 during the British rule. Prior to this, the powers and jurisdiction of the Gajapati king were in jeopardy during the Moghul and Maratha rule. As the powers of the Gajapati king were curtailed, there was gross mismanagement in the temple. The situation went to such extent that during the post-Independence period, the Gajapati king became an ordinary citizen. Since the king has no power, how can he manage the temple?” he asked.
He further said the mismanagement of the temple reached a climax after the state government took up the entire responsibility of the temple from the Gajapati king in 1960, five years after the enactment of the Shree Jagannath Temple Act in 1955.
“Like the Odisha governments, the governments in other states also took up the management of the major temples. While these state governments have made considerable improvement of the temple, including their maintenance and management, the people of Odisha had expected the same from the state government, which, unfortunately did not happen due to several reasons. Whichever government came to power after 1960 till date, did not give priority to the tradition and problems of the temple. Since the state government has taken over the responsibility of the Shrimandir, it should give due priority to the state of affairs, administration and the tradition of the temple so that the problems will be solved gradually”, he observed.
The Gajapati Maharaja said the Odisha government should immediately take action against the erring Daitapati servitors responsible for the inordinate delay in the Brahma Parivartan rituals of the deities inside the Shri Jagannath temple on June 16.
To a question on mobile phones being carried inside the temple, the Gajapati king said this goes against the tradition of the temple.
“Carrying mobile phones at the time of secret rituals of the Lords is a crime of the highest order. If anyone has taken the mobile phone, stern action should be initiated against him. We will come to know about those who had taken the mobile phone during the secret rituals only after the ongoing investigation of the temple administration,” he said.
He said the incident had deeply hurt the sentiments of the devotees of Lord Jagannath all over the world. The people are deeply concerned over the act of the servitors who have grossly violated in the century-old tradition of the temple.
“I have been receiving several calls on this issue. A group of sadhus met me here today and had a threadbare discussion on the issue,” he said.
Referring to the rituals of the Shri Jagannath temple, the Gajapati king said no one has a comprehensive knowledge about this. “Whatever the devotees know is very little,” he pointed out.
He said a delegation of Chhatisha Nijog had met him at his Royal palace in Puri on Monday evening. During the meeting, they said the people were under the impression that all servitors are responsible for the incident.
“I told them that the people are aware that the secret rituals of the Lords including the Brahma Parivartan are performed only by the Daitapatis. But the delegation did not believe my words. It’s my sincere request to the state government and the temple administration to identify the guilty Daitapatis through an impartial investigation as per the law and initiate proper action against them at the earliest so thatno one would never dare to go against the tradition of the temple in future,” he noted.
To a question on whether the temple administration is delaying the process of investigation into the matter, the Gajapati said as far as he concerned, the chief administrators is doing his job with the required urgency.
“Let us not go by the news coming up in the media. Rather, we should wait for the investigation and its findings on what exactly had transpired,” he said.
Talking in support of the servitors, the Gajapati king said they carry out major responsibility of the temple like the daily ritual of the Lords, major festivals, facilitating smooth darshan of the Lords to the devotees and the arrangement of Mahaprasad.
“Considering their responsibilities, unless the temple administration listens to the grievances of the servitors, develops a healthy relationship with them and fulfils their requirements, mismanagement will continue,” he pointed out.
Replying to a question on whether there would be judicial inquiry into the incident, the Gajapati king hoped that that the temple administration will be able to complete the investigation in a time-bound manner and bring the truth to the limelight.
“It could be two weeks, one month or two months for the temple administration to complete its investigation. But if judicial inquiry is conducted, it would take at least six months to be set up and submit its report in another six months, one year or two years. We want quick decision and action and cannot wait for long,” he said.