Pradeep Pattanayak

Servitors of the Lord Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar have objected to the guidelines issued by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) with respect to the observance of Maha Shivratri at the 11th century shrine on March 1.

Opposing the BMC’s guidelines that restrict devotees from offering puja at Aadda Kathha, Sevayats (servitors) belonging to the Brahman Nijog and Pujapanda Nijog have demanded that the devotees should be allowed to light lamps and offer puja inside the temple premises on the occasion.

The servitors expressed their concerns about the restrictions imposed by the BMC at a coordination meeting held at the Lingaraj Temple office on Saturday.   

As per the set of guidelines issued by the civic body on Friday for celebration of the occasion, Sahan Mela/Garvagruha darshan is not allowed on the day of Maha Shivratri. The devotees will be allowed for darshan of Lord Lingaraj from Singhadwar to Aadda Kathha. However, they cannot offer puja near Aadda Kathha during darshan. The disgruntled servitors of both the Nijogs said they didn’t have issues with the civic authorities’ decision for the Lord’s darshan from Aadda Kathha. However, what they are objecting to is the restriction on puja at Aadda Kathha. 

They urged the authorities to do away with the restrictions well before Maha Shivratri. 

Meanwhile, police commissioner Saumendra Priyadarshi reviewed the security, traffic arrangements and steps taken for maintaining law and order on the day. 

At the review meeting, issues starting from parking arrangements to devotees’ hassle free darshan of the Lord were discussed. Emphasis was laid on the raising of the Mahadeep at the pre-decided time of 10 pm. It was also discussed that there will be arrangements for sprinkling of water and setting up of temporary sheds during the day, keeping in mind the soaring temperature.  

Informing about the steps to be taken on Maha Shivratri, BMC additional commissioner Laxmikant Sethi said the occasion will be observed with strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.