Odishatv Bureau

Puri: Five days ahead of the annual Ratha Jatra of the deities, Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Friday gave a clean chit to the servitors in connection with the Snana Purnima fiasco.

It was alleged that a number of servitors, in-charge of the ceremonial bathing rituals of the Trinity, had allowed thousands of devotees to touch the deities despite a ban imposed by SJTA.

The shrine administration informed the media that the servitors can’t be blamed for mismanagement on the particular day.

“We examined a 45-minute video footage of the incident. But nowhere we found the servitors taking the devotees near the Snana Mandap (bathing altar), which led to such a situation,“ SJTA chief Suresh Mohapatra said.

Asked about the reason behind such chaos and indiscipline, the official stated that the devotees were allowed inside the temple before the barricade was removed completely.

“We will be careful in this regard and see that such things do not recur in future,” Mohapatra said.

However, the temple administration’s clean chit to the servitors five days ahead of the grand festival is being seen as an attempt to placate the latter anticipating non-cooperation during the festival, for which the shrine body may draw flak.

Besides a public outrage, Puri King Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb had blamed the State government for the administrative failure during Debasnana Purnima despite the presence of officials and policemen. His discontentment came amidst growing public outcry over a large number of influential priests allowing their near and dear ones to touch the deities, resulting in the defacement of the idols.

"I was shocked by the chaos and indiscipline on Snana Mandap. Touching the deities is completely prohibited as per the order of Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati in November 2013. Just as the Supreme Court's verdict in legal matters is final, the decision of the Shankaracharya in Hindu religious affairs is conclusive and indisputable," said Deb, revered as the first servitor and living embodiment of Jagannath.