Pradeep Pattanayak

The devotees entering Srimandir through the Western gate had a harrowing experience on Friday as some servitors allegedly violated the entry rules and took some West Bengal visitors along with them through the gate. 

Of the four gates of the Puri Jagannath temple, while devotees enter the shrine through the Lion’s Gate (Singha Dwar), the Western gate is open only for Puri residents.  

Today some visitors from West Bengal were allegedly allowed through the Western Gate through which local residents were also entering the shrine. In no time, the gate was overcrowded with local and West Bengal devotees, giving rise to a chaotic situation. With the temperature soaring, the devotees had to endure the oppressive heat and humidity to enter the temple. 

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According to local residents, on several occasions, outsiders are being allowed into the shrine through the Western Gate by flouting the rule. 

A devotee from Balasore alleged that the servitors and policemen deployed at the gate are in cahoots. 

“We are seven members and we entered the shrine by paying Rs 700. First, a servitor approached us and demanded Rs 200 per person. Then another servitor came and asked for Rs 100 per person. With no other option, we coughed up Rs 700 and went into the shrine,” alleged Janmejay Rout, a devotee from Balasore. 

A local resident alleged that the security personnel were allowing tourists from outside through the Western gate while denying entry to local residents. 

“Even though I am a local resident, I have been waiting for my turn to enter the shrine for the last hour whereas; outsiders including West Bengal tourists are entering the temple through the Western gate. The administration should look into it,” said Padmanabha Khuntia, a local resident. 

When asked, a policeman deployed at the gate said, “SP sir has directed us to allow Puri people through this gate, but only after verification of AADHAAR card. The servitors are taking West Bengal visitors through this gate.” 

“The Congress government and the present BJD government don’t understand the Jagannath culture properly. The Western Gate doesn’t belong to anyone. Each gate has its own merit. So, all the four gates should be opened. There is a fault on the part of the administration for which devotees, servitors and local residents are suffering,” said Gourishankar Singhari, a senior servitor.

When contacted, Puri SP Pinak Mishra said, “After the inauguration of the Parikrama Prakalpa, devotees from different parts are coming to Srimandir. These days, a huge rush of devotees is being witnessed, particularly during peak hours. On several occasions, deviations have been witnessed at the Western gate. It was observed today also. However, our officials intervened and streamlined the situation. The district administration and temple administration will sit to analyse and find out a solution to this problem.”

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