Pradeep Pattanayak

That the State government as well as the Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has been maintaining a stoic silence over the demand of reopening of Srimandir Ratna Bhandar has given rise to the speculations that the topic has deliberately been put on the back burner. 

Today’s incident of Shri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee member Padma Shri recipient renowned sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik’s proposal to discuss the issue at the meeting being sidelined, has left many shocked. 

At the meeting, Patnaik wished to know the present status of the Ratna Bhandar, its repair work and reopening. But his proposal was technically sidelined, saying the matter was not in the agenda.   

Patnaik also raised doubts regarding the working style of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), but was given a short shrift. 

After the meeting, journalists wanted to know about the status of the Ratna Bhandar from Chief Administrator of the temple Vir Vikram Yadav. But he parried the questions. 

When asked why his questions on the Ratna Bhandar were ignored, Patnaik said it would be an inopportune time to say anything about that. 

“Ratna Bhandar issue was not in the agenda of the meeting today. The day when the issue would be in the agenda, I would tell you the outcome of the discussion on the topic,” Yadav said while answering to the queries of journalists.   

At a time when devotees, servitors and temple management committee members have been demanding reopening of the Ratna Bhandar, neither the government nor the SJTA is showing slightest of interest in this regard. 

Even permanent member of Shri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, Puri Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb, who once expressed his concern regarding the status of the Ratna Bhandar, is not exercising his veto power to include the topic in the agenda. Rather, he is keeping mum. 

It has now been alleged that the topic has knowingly been sidelined.   

“If the government and SJTA open the Ratna Bhandar for once only and tell people that the ornaments of the deities are intact, we and the people of Odisha will be happy,” said BJP leader Prabhanjan Mishra. 

BJD leader Prasanna Mohapatra seemed to be in a damage control mood. “The government has never denied to reopen the Ratna Bhandar. It will be reopened with the permission of Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb. With respect to whether the ornaments are safe or not, even the servitors are clueless,” said Mohapatra.