Himansu Shekhar Rout

The much-awaited Srimandir Parikrama project was inaugurated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the pilgrim city of Puri amid pomp and gaiety on Wednesday, but the Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhan Peeth, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati was conspicuous by his absence.

As per reports, Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb and the chief administrator of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) had met the Puri seer in Ujjain and extended an invitation for the inauguration ceremony.   

Public relations officer (PRO) of the Govardhan Peeth, Pandit Matruprasad Mishra said, “In fact, the Nabakalebar(transformation) of the Jagannath temple surroundings has been done. Roads were widened and other infrastructure projects have been executed. All Odias have welcomed the project. The Parikrama project was executed in view of the growing number of devotees visiting Puri. The government and the temple administration have done a commendable job.”

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Asked about the absence of the Puri Shankaracharya, Mishra said, “Nothing negative should be read from his absence. A delegation comprising the Puri Gajapati and the SJTA administrator had gone to Raipur to invite the Shankaracharya. They had a detailed discussion with the seer about the projects and the grand ceremony. Since the seer’s visit to the famous Gangasagar Mela in West Bengal was pre-scheduled, he has been there for the mela. That’s why he could not attend the ceremony.”

Later in the day, the PRO also said."When the schedule for the inauguration programme of Srimandir Parikrama project was decided, advice and suggestions of the Shankaracharya were not taken. And there is certainly a communication gap in this matter."

He, however, added that if all are happy with the inauguration ceremony of the Parikrama project there is no reason for the Jagadguru Shankaracharya to be unhappy.