Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, June 17:
Senior Congress leader and former PCC president Niranjan Patnaik today urged the Odisha government, religious leaders and the political parties to respect the religious sentiments of the people and not to play politics over the issue of allowing devotees to climb the chariots in Puri.
Patnaik, in a press release, condemned the interference of the government in strictly religious matters.
“The holy Rath Yatra is a ritual dating back hundreds of years. There is no mention of devotees climbing the chariots in the scriptures and rituals. The responsibility of the government is only to maintain law and order and ensure security. But the government is unnecessarily interfering in religious matters like what rituals would be performed in the temple, what gifts should devotees offer and what mantras should the priests recite and creating avoidable dispute,” said Patnaik.
The Congress leader said instead of thinking about the law and order problem and possible terrorist attack on the Puri temple, the government and some political parties are more worried about the daily rituals of Lord Jagannath, which is unacceptable.
It is to be noted that the controversy over the sensitive issue of devotees climbing the chariots and touching the deities during Rath Yatra festival has assumed political color with the BJP supporting Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhan Peeth who has opposed the practice, and alleging that the state government is distorting his decision taken in consultation with other stake holders.
Patnaik has appealed to political parties not to further politicise what is an essentially religious issue.