Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kakatpur, Apr 10:
Reports of politicians and other influential persons in Odisha using their influence and exerting pressure to ensure that trees in their area are selected as the darus (neem trees with special attributes for the making of the idols of the deities) have marred the Banajaga Yatra, the holy journey by Daitapati servitors in search of the darus.
Sources said politicians and influential persons have attempted to put pressure on the Banajaga team to keep certain neem trees among the ten trees that would be shortlisted out of the 112 seen so far.
Facts in possession of leading Odia daily ‘Sambad’ suggest that more than one minister and influential bureaucrats have been pressurizing the Banajaga team to search for the darus in three districts apart from Puri. While only four neem trees are to be finally selected for the carving of new idols, the recommendations may exceed it by many times.
Not be left behind, several educational institutions of Bhubaneswar too are brazenly using Lord Jagannath’s Nabakalebara Yatra for their own publicity. There is a race between the institution and its senior officials to prove oneself as the most experienced servitor of Lord Jagannath.
Even an established educational institution of Bhubaneswar has been lobbying for selecting a daru from a district neighbouring Puri district. Also a renowned educational institution in Bhubaneswar has been exreting pressure for selecting a neem tree on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar city as a daru for carving of idols of the Lords. Similarly, recommendations have been made for using certain identified neem trees in Jajpur and Cuttack district. Daitapatis are having difference of opinion among themselves on the matter, sources revealed.
Some institutions have started publicity campaigns claiming themselves to be the ardent servitor of Lord Jagannath.
Despite Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) announcing right at the outset that anything that would be available as donation for use by Banajaga Yatra team members will not carry any sponsor’s name, certain things being used by Banajaga Yatra team members are carrying the name of a reputed educational institution of Bhubaneswar.
A renowned educationist has put up publicity banners in Kakatpur, the hotspot of activity during the Banajaga Yatra till the selection of the darus, claiming to have been donated silken robes for Lord Jagannath’s use for long years.
Some little known retired influential employees have also used the Nabakalebara for their own publicity using the name of some institutions.
However, on the other hand the SJTA has rubbished allegations of lobbying during the search of darus.
“In the Lord’s work, nothing – neither recommendation nor demand – works,” said Laxmidhar Pujapanda, PRO SJTA. “Search for darus is on as per prescriptions made in the scriptures,” he added.
Responding to the allegations, Daitapati Nijog President Ramachandra Das Mohapatra said: “Politics is all-pervasive, but the service to the Lord is above everything else. No pressure – no matter where it comes from – will be tolerated in this case because it;s service to God. Darus for the Lords will be made purely on the basis of the prophesy and the blessings of the Lord.” “There is no place for compromise in this, howsoever strong the claimant be,” he added.
The best of the neem trees will be selected out of those trees short listed with divine symbols, Mohapatra said.
Meanwhile, with Banajaga Yatra team members locating around 112 neem trees during the course of their search by Wednesday (April 8), the search for neem trees that began on April 5 has come to an end.
Today is the 13th day of the Banajaga Yatra and the fifth day of the search for darus (neem trees with special attributes for carving of new idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Sudarshan.
Banajaga Yatra team members had fanned out to different places in different directions by splitting themselves into six groups to locate these hundred odd neem trees with special attributes.
The scriptures specify certain specific attributes that make a particular neem tree suitable for carving of the idol of each Lord apart from common attributes, which makes the zeroing in most difficult.
From Thursday, senior members like dalapati (team leader), upadalapatis (deputy team leaders), pati mohapatra, four badagrahis and others are visiting locations where these neem trees are located to scrutinize these trees for the divine symbols on them and the other attributes as mentioned in the scriptures to decide if they are suitable for carving of the four idols.
Today too, senior Daitapatis have left in different directions to scrutinize the attributes to zero in on the four trees. Senior members of the team including dalapati, upadalapatis, pati mohapatra, four badagrahis thoroughly examine videos of the neem trees brought by the search parties to shortlist the trees and plan for the scrutiny visits which started yesterday.