Cassian Baliarsingh

The skyrocketing price of Mahaprasad (Abadha) in Jagannath Temple at Puri has become a serious matter of concern for devotees and visitors alike. In the meantime, its four years, but the directives of Supreme Court to prepare a rationalised rate chart of the holy food for public knowledge at Ananda Bazaar still to become a reality.

On the one hand while the rise in prices of essentials like food ration and veggies during the current holy month of Kartik is burning holes in the pocket of consumers, absence of any strict rules to regulate the price of Abadha has dealt a double whammy for thousands of devotees visiting the 12th century shrine on a daily basis.

It is being said that a small size set of abadha which may cost around Rs 200 is hardly enough for one devotee. So it becomes a painful affair even for a middle class family to afford partaking the prasad together by paying thousands of rupees. The situation has sparked even bigger concerns for thousands of habishyalis who remain in Puri to observe the month-long fasting rituals in Kartik.

“What can I do, I have to take the ‘prasad’ of the Lord because I have no other way to go than stay here during the month of Kartik,” said a habishyali.

Similarly, another devotee said, “I just paid Rs 400 and got only a small bowl of ‘abadha’. It is saddening to see it is unaffordable for many poor devotees.”

According to reports, a medium-size earthen bowl (kodua) of ‘jeera rice’ which was once available for Rs 500-600, now costs around Rs 800. Similarly, a bowl of ‘dal’ available for Rs 100, now costs around Rs 200. Other normal food like curry, besar, ‘mahura,’ ‘sag’ cost around Rs 40-50 per bowl.
According to sources, at least 20,000 devotees visit Srimandir on a daily basis and Abadha is being prepared every day for around 50,000 people. However, the lackadaisical attitude of government, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and others in preparing a rate chart for ‘Abadha’ has spread resentment among the devotees.

In a bid to avoid overcharging of Mahaprasad (Abadha) in Sri Mandir, the Supreme Court in 2018 had directed to prepare a rate chart with separate list of items. Similarly, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) had decided to introduce ‘Thali’ system in the temple.

The Supreme Court had directed to put up the rate charts on walls at Ananda Bazaar, Baisi Pahacha and all four entrances of Sri Mandir. Besides, it was directed that the Suar Mahasuar Nijog members would not be allowed to put up polythene sheds inside Ananda Bazaar.

The temple administration had also decided to set up sheds for the selling of Mahaprasad and this apart, non-servitors were restricted from selling Abhada inside Ananda Bazaar. However, four years have passed, but no steps have been taken in this regard.

Meanwhile, senior servitor Binayak Das Mahapatra has attributed the price hike to skyrocketing price rise of essential commodities.

The surging prices of essential commodities have led to increased in the price of ‘Abadha’ during the holy month of Kartik, he said. 

(Reported by Pradeep Mohanty & Madhusudan Mishra, OTV)