Vikash Sharma

Despite strict security measures, unidentified miscreants have allegedly flattened over 20 earthen chullas (ovens) inside the kitchen (Roshaghar) of the Puri Gundicha Temple. The matter came to light on Saturday.

It is suspected that some miscreants had intentionally destroyed the kitchen chulhas after barging into the shrine late on Friday night.

The ovens were prepared for cooking Abadha for the Trinity who will be enshrined on the Adapa Mandapa after they are taken out of the three chariots today evening.

Narayan Mahasuar, president of the Suar Mahasuar Nijog said, “Around 20-30 ovens which were recently built have been damaged last night. We do not know who is involved in the vandalism. We have informed the matter to the authorities.”

Sources said there are around 752 earthen hearths inside Gundicha temple. Out of which, 20 ovens have been ransacked and all of them belong to seven mahasuars.

A senior mahasuar, whose oven has been damaged said, “We had built the ovens some five days back. I think it is the work of someone from among us. The ovens have been damaged with hands, unlike last time when they were dug out with an iron rod or a piece of wood.”

In April this year, several earthen hearths were also vandalised inside Puri Jagannath temple by miscreants. The incident has sparked resentment among the cooks (suaras) of the 12th-century shrine.

Later, a resident of Begunia area in Khordha district was arrested in connection with the incident. The accused J Mohapatra from Begunia area had claimed that he felt uneasy about something and ransacked the ovens in the temple kitchen.