With the three gates of Puri Srimandir remaining shut, heart-wrenching images of suffering of devotees waiting for their turns in the long serpentine queue to enter Puri Srimandir are emerging on a daily basis.
On Monday, a 70-year-old Haramani Devi, who came from the Fakirpur area in Keonjhar district to have darshan of Lord Jagannath, suffered the worst experience of her life.
Reaching Puri in the morning, she stood in the queue in the designated barricade in front of Srimandir. Due to her advancing age, she was having problems standing for hours. After standing for four hours, she lost her patience and started crying, requesting someone to come to her rescue.
It is worth mentioning that the entire episode was live on OTV. The people from the entire Odisha were watching how an elderly devotee was suffering. Later, two policemen deployed for law and order approached Haramani and took her away from the barricade into the shrine for the darshan of the deities. It is believed that the police officials on the spot may have intervened only after being asked by the higher authorities.
“My legs were hurting while standing in the queue. The system is totally rubbish,” said Haramani while being escorted into the temple.
On the same day, another girl standing inside the barricade and waiting for her turn, couldn’t stand for long hours and collapsed on the ground. The situations of the families coming with their children can well be understood.
Those who came from outside the state were seen returning with a broken heart. After undergoing the pain of standing for hours in the barricade, they were heard saying they would never come to the city again.
After watching how devotees are suffering and the temple administration looking the other way, intellectuals ascribed the dire situation to the closure of three gates and held the state government and the temple administration responsible.
“In my opinion, the earlier system was good. People would have hassle-free darshan of the deities. Now, devotees are being allowed in phases,” said a female devotee from West Bengal.
“One has to experience the sufferings of devotes standing in barricades to feel their pain. As there is no toilet facility near the Lion’s Gate, people are experiencing problems. I would like to request the government to open the four gates. Or else, people will curse them,” said Badri Mishra, an intellectual.
“I am yet to understand why they have kept the gates closed. They should open them immediately for devotees. What are they scared of? Whose orders they are obeying?" asked the convenor of the Shree Jagannath Sena, Priyadarshan Pattanayak.