Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 9:
Repair work of the jagamohana (audience hall) of the Shree Jagannath temple (Sri Mandir), the 12th century shrine in Odisha’s holy town Puri will begin most likely in the first week of January next year after being discussed in detail at a meeting of the Chhattisa Nijog (federal body of Sri Mandir servitors) to be convened soon, informed chief administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Suresh Chandra Mohapatra here today.
“We had called a meeting of the representatives of the sevayat nijogs (servitors’ bodies) of those who are involved in the conduct of rituals of the Lords in the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum). Very soon we will be calling a meeting of the Chhattisha Nijog. We will discuss on the detail action plan provided by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for Sri Mandir repair. We will take a decision very soon,” Mohapatra said.
“Repair of the jagamohana is of utmost importance. We had fixed the dateline to begin work by December 16. We had an informal round of discussions today with servitor representatives today. We will hold a meeting of the Chhattisha Nijog very soon to discuss in detail about the conduct of rituals during the repair period. Time table has to be fixed for conduct of rituals. Only if we conduct the dwara phita niti at 2 AM and do mangala alati etc. then only we can handover the premises to ASI by 11 AM everyday for repair work. Only sevayats who are connected with the rituals will be allowed to enter the garbha griha and jagamohana area. General public will not be allowed into the area as there will be scaffolding and a permanent platform will be erected. Most likely we will start work in the first week of January at the new year’s day rush,” the chief administrator said.
The final date for start of repair work will be announced after the Chhattisha Nijog meeting, he added.
Resentment was high among the sevayats over media reports of state government’s plans to abolish hereditary rights of sevayats and construction of permanent chariots for conduct of Rath Yatra as per the suggestions of the Justice B K Patra Commission report.
However, Mohapatra denied of SJTA receiving any communication from the government in this regard.
“I have received no such communication from the government or its Law department. Reports in media especially about hereditary rights and permanent chariots are suggestions of the Justice B K Patra Commission and Justice P K Mohanty Commission reports. Those suggestions have been only circulated by the Home department to different other departments to elicit their views. Deliberations are yet to begin. After government obtains views of different departments it will take a call. No decision has been taken on the abolition of hereditary rights etc. Unless the Shree Jagannath Temple Act and Record of Rights are amended, the government cannot take any decision in this regard. The government is yet to start the process,” Mohapatra clarified.
Sources claimed servitors of 11 nijogs invited by the SJTA were peeved over the government’s move and had boycotted the meeting today.