Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, June 27:
In a clear sign of the deepening fissures within the Daitapati community, the Daitapati Nijog (the apex body of Daitapati servitors) has openly disowned the clarification put forth by the three Badagrahis (body protectors) of the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra over the alleged irregularities committed during the Brahma Parivartan at a joint conference at Odisha’s holy city Puri on Thursday as their ‘personal opinion’.
“It is their personal opinion; we were not asked to attend the press meet. We were completely unaware of it. The Nijog will give its comments later,” said Premananda Das Mohapatra, Secretary, Daitapati Nijog on Friday.
The Daitapati Nijog secretary’s comments has spelt more trouble for the state government by giving credence to allegations that Thursday’s press conference by the three Badagrahis was a sponsored programme of the state government to protect itself.
“The three Badagrahis had held the Thursday press conference without consulting the office bearers of the Daitapati Nijog. The Nijog is unable to accept the statements of the three Badagrahis,” said Das Mohapatra.
Notably, Nijog members had made sensational revelations to the media on June 16 over the series of irregularities committed during the Brahma Parivartan. The fact that the most important ritual of the Nabakalebara, which according to temple traditions should have taken place in complete darkness and in utter secrecy, was performed during day time with about a 100 Daitapatis inside, has led to severe anguish among the believers of Lord Jagannath. With Daitapati servitors revealing to the media that some members had carried mobile phones inside the temple, suspicions have been raised that the Brahma Parivartan ritual could have been video recorded and leaked. [In fact videos and photographs of the Brahma Parivartan have already started doing the rounds in the social media, though their authenticity remains to be verified.]
Around this time, a photograph of Law Minister Arun Sahu taking rest with Daitapati servitors at the camp during the Banajaga Yatra and another one of Daitapatis blessing him also started circulating in the social media adding further fuel to the fire that was raging in the state over the alleged gross mismanagement of the Brahma Parivartan ritual.
Following the controversy over the alleged mess during the Brahma Parivartan ritual, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has recorded the statements of the four Badagrahis, president and secretary of the Daitapati Nijog and the ten Biswakarmas (carpenters engaged in the carving of the new idols). Based on their statements, the SJTA suspended two Daitapatis as per the provisions of Section 21 of the Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954.
A day ahead of the Odisha bandh called by the Congress, the three Badagrahis had held a press conference on June 25. The three Badagrahis asserted that no irregularities had taken place during the Brahma Parivartan ritual apart from the delay. They had also sought to explain away the absence of the Nijog’s office bearers at the press meet saying they had called the meet to clarify things after allegations of gross mismanagement during the Brahma Parivartan ritual.
Questions were raised by reporters on the absence of Nabakishore Pati Mohapatra, the Badagrahi of Lord Sudarshan at the press meet to which the three Badagrahis could not give a satisfactory reply.
Meanwhile, the chief administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Suresh Mohapatra has hinted that several Daitapatis have evinced interest in deposing before the SJTA and give their versions of the events on Brahma Parivartan day. Their versions will be recorded soon, Mohapatra said.