Odisha Sun Times Bureau:
Bhubaneswar, Jan 11:
The tug of war over payment of dues between Daitapatis (servitors) of Shri Jagannath Temple in Puri and the Odisha government is far from over. A meeting convened here on Saturday evening to find a way out of the impasse ended inconclusive.
The servitors, who had assembled in the Odisha capital for a meeting with Law Minister Arun Sahu, had to return empty handed as the latter did not make any firm commitment on the disbursal of dues.
The minister bought time and said we would do something in the coming 3-4 days, leaving the servitors fuming.
‘‘Lord Jagannath is our brother. If government doesn’t look into our issues, He will take care of us. We will perform our duties during Nabakalebar festival with utmost dedication and celebrate it with fanfare in the larger interest of devotees,’’ the sulking servitors said after the meeting.
With the inordinate delay in payment of dues, the servitors have cast doubts over timely completion of preparations for the Nabakalebar in July this year.
With March 29 being fixed for a search party to locate sacred trees to be labelled as Daru Bramha for making of idols for Nabakalebar, the state government is expected to take a call anytime soon as it cannot afford to upset the servitors, who play a major role in conduct of the rituals.
Notably, the state government had debarred devotees from climbing atop the chariot for the darshan of the Lords during the annual Car Festival in June last year as per the advice of the Shankaracharya. The decision had angered the servitors who threatened to boycott rituals associated with the famous festival. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the government had assured the servitors that they would be compensated for the ‘loss’ they had incurred due to the decision.
Though the government had promised the servitors to provide compensation to them soon after the Car Festival, it has not paid them their pending dues even as seven months have elapsed in the meantime.