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Devbrat Patnaik

Khurda: We had so far seen priests blessing devotees with their hands. However, a video purportedly showing a priest placing his feet on the devotees' heads and back to bless them, has now gone viral on social media platforms.

The incident reportedly took place after Vahana Puja (worshipping vehicles) on Vijaya Dashami at the Paltan ground in Banpur of Khurda district.

The viral video shows how the drivers and owners of the vehicles, after the Vahana Puja, sat in a single row to seek blessings of the temple priest. The priest Ramchandra Samantaray then came reciting prayers and touched every person's head and back with his feet.

No sooner than the video went viral, criticism poured in from several sections of the society. However, a few Twitteratti claimed that this happens to be a very old tradition of the people of Banpur.

"Because the people here have complete faith on the priests, they themselves asked me to let my feet touch their head. It is we who absorb half of their sins. Blessing them means we try to share and reduce their sins. If people ever disliked such a belief, they would have reacted. This is not an insult but a blessing practiced since long. Blessings could be in any form, with hands, feet, mouth or even eyes," said the priest Ramchandra Samantaray.

The local people seen seeking blessings from the priest, however, could not be contacted over the issue.

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