Missing Ratna Bhandar key: Know what Srimandir rules say

Bhubaneswar: Since OTV first reported about the disappearance of the Srimandir Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove) key, the controversy has snowballed, triggering outrage in various quarters.  It was a revelation when the news was first telecast, and continues to remain a mystery with allegations, counter allegations, speculations and outright condemnation not helping much.

Amid such outcry, a look at the verifiable facts and documented rules may throw some light.

While the Shri Jagannath Temple Rules, 1960 clearly mentions that the audit of the ornaments inside the Ratna Bhandar should be conducted every six months, it has not been opened since 1985. The rules clearly mention who is the custodian of the ornaments, how the audit should be conducted and who will be in charge of the keys.

BJP spokesperson Pitambar Acharya at a presser in Bhubaneswar today informed that as per section 5 of the Shri Jagannath Temple Rules, 1960, the ornaments of Lord Jagannath are divided into three kinds. First the ornaments that are not used and kept stocked in the Ratna Bhandar; then the second kind of ornaments which are used during festivals like Suna Besha of the Holy Trinity and finally, the ornaments adorned by the deities during daily rituals.

As per the rules, audit of the ornaments should be conducted in presence of the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), two members of the temple management committee, district Collector, SP and Puri King or his representative. If any deviation is noticed from the list handed over by ancestors of the Gajapati Maharaja, then a separate list will be prepared.

The ornaments that are not being used are to be kept in the inner chamber of the Ratna Bhandar with two locks that will be sealed and the keys are to be submitted by the temple administration at the government treasury. The locks can only be opened with special permission of the State government.

Similarly, the chamber containing the ornaments used during festivals will also be secured with two locks. One of the keys should be with the chief administrator of SJTA and the other with Pattajoshi Mohapatra. The keys of the chamber containing the ornaments adorned by the Trinity during daily rituals should be with the Bhandar Mekap.

As per the Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1955 and Shri Jagannath Temple Rules, 1960, the security of Ratna Bhandar is not the responsibility of the Puri King, said Acharya.