Ramakanta Biswas

The 12th-century Lord Jagannath temple in Puri is facing an annoying problem of rodents and cockroaches which has reportedly threatened the structures of the idols of the sibling deities in the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine.

The increasing number of rats and cockroaches has become a headache for servitors as well as Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA). 

Expressing sheer displeasure over the issue, Puspalaks or Singhari sevaks who dress up the deities with clothes and flowers complain that rats and cockroaches are having a field day around the Ratna Singhasan (bejewelled throne) in the sanctum sanctorum and posing an obstacle to their service. 

“When we dress up the deities, we often found a large number of cockroaches hovering over our heads. Besides, rats also found near the deities, terrifying us to the core. We silently perform out duty as we are in the service of the Lord, otherwise, there is a massive threat to our lives. The administration must take measures in this regard,” said a Singhari sevak. 

“The rat droppings smear the deities and pose a potential threat to the idols. Therefore, we frequently do the Banaka Lagi ritual of the deities. We have informed about the issue to the temple administration many times, but to no avail,” he added.

“This is cent percent true. This problem is not of recent time, it persists for years. The Banaka Lagi of the deities is performed frequently in an interval of fortnight or month due to this reason. The rat droppings smear the face of the deities,” said another servitor. 

Senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra also admitted the rodent and cockroach menace at the temple and said, “The temple administration lay rat catching boxes near Kalahat Dwar. However, rats never fall into the trap as they usually remain hidden in chandua above the Ratna Singhasan. Efforts are on by the administration to address the issue.”

Speaking on the issue, SJTA administrator (ritual) Jitendra Kumar Sahu said, “There is no threat to the deities seated on the Ratna Singhasan. Preventive measures are being taken to get rid of rats and cockroaches. Chandan (sandal) and Karpura (Camphor) are applied on the idols.”