Rashmi Ranjan

In a major development that may trigger a controversy, the Odisha government has decided to prohibit the use of Ganja at all Lord Shiva shrines across the State.

In a letter to all the district collectors and Superintendents of Police, the Odia Language Literature and Culture Department has directed the officials to take necessary measures to stop the use of the contraband on Lord Shiva shrine premises.

Speaking on the development, Lord Lingaraj Temple supervisor said, “Ganja is never offered at the shrine. I have visited many Shiva shrines in Odisha, but ganja is offered nowhere. I welcome the move of the Odisha government.”

On the other hand, Bijay Kumar Das, chief servitor of Akhandalamani shrine said, “Ganja or Bhang is used during the ‘Gharsana’ ritual of Lord Shiva and this is a century-old tradition. The ‘Gharsana’ bhog is offered to the devotees. If the government bans the use of ganja at the Lord Shiva, we will hold discussions with the concerned authorities. But if the ban aims at the devotees, I welcome the move.”

Commenting on the development, Padma Shri Baba Balia said, “We have written a letter to the government requesting a ban on Ganja at Shiva shrines. I thank the Odisha government for banning the contraband at the shrines. Ganja can be offered as ‘dhupa’ at the shrine but should not be distributed among devotees for consumption. The ban will curb health hazards among the youth.”

“It is against the religion when someone raises questions on our belief. What we offer to Lord Shiva is our personal beliefs and values. Raising questions over it is not right,” said a devotee at Lord Lingaraj temple.

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