Mrunal Manmay Dash

Chhattisgarh Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan has expressed his anguish over the reported mismanagement at Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri.

Harichandan, who had earlier served as the Law Minister of Odisha, expressed his concern and pain through a column in an Odia daily.

“The most painful issue I found is the devotees are forced to stand in queues for hours in order to have a disciplined darshan. Recently, I saw a long queue from Market Square to the Temple. In the queue, the old and the children were standing for hours and waiting for darshan. They come from different parts of the country and abroad to see the Lord. Have we ever tried to understand the feelings, devotion and emotions of their minds? Have we ever imagined the hardships and pains they suffer while standing in queues for hours, sometimes even for five or six hours, in the scorching sun and rain?” Harichandan asked.

Speaking about the disruption of Srimandir rituals, he said, “Many times, some of the demands of the servitors are not fulfilled by the SJTA, so the servitors keep the Lords hungry for hours and sometimes for days. Has anyone ever wondered how much pain this is causing in the minds of the public and unsuspecting devotees? The servitors need to think about that.”

“They (servitors) are the best devotees of the Lord. They have had the privilege of serving the Lord. They should raise their voice of protest or agitate if all the rituals and all the seva pujas of Lord Jagannath are not done on time or if the administration neglects it. Similarly, they have the right to present it to the administration or the administration to fulfil any of their legitimate demands. But instead of doing so, it is sad that His beloved servitors keep the Lord hungry for their own problems and demands,” he said.

Harichandan also spoke about the long-standing demand of reopening of all four Srimandir doors. “If the Parikrama project keeps one door of the temple closed, the devotees should be allowed to use other three gates. What a great injustice it is to create this barrier between the devotees and the Lord, Lord Jagannath is the guardian of the whole world. He is considered as fallen. All the devotees have an unbroken audacity for his free darshan. Therefore, an alternative arrangement should be made. As an ordinary devotee of Lord Jagannath, this is my request to the Government,” he said.

“It is not just my pain, but the pain of millions of Jagannath lovers and devotees. Many devotees and dignitaries have discussed this with me. Seeing all this, they also questioned why I was not saying anything. I hold a constitutional post like the Governor, I have to go through some rules and regulations. That is why it took me so long to respond to the mismanagement at Srimandir,” he said.

Harichandan is currently serving as the 8th and current Governor of Chhattisgarh. He was the former Governor of Andhra Pradesh from 2019 to early 2023. From 2004 to 2009, he was Minister of Law, Revenue and Fisheries, the Government of Odisha.

Meanwhile, a woman devotee from Ganjam fell ill after standing in a long queue for hours today. She was admitted to Puri hospital for treatment.

A few days earlier, a stampede like situation had occured when lakhs of devotees including Habishyalis reached the Srimandir to avail darshan of the Lord. More than 10 deevotees were injured who were later discharged from hospital after treatment.