ASI expresses grave concern over using iron nails to decorate Shree Jagannath Temple

Bhubaneswar: The Archaeological Survey of India has expressed “grave” concern over using iron nails on the walls of the 12th century Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri for floral decorations by a Delhi businessman during the July 4 Rath Yatra festival.

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), a body entrusted by the Odisha government to look into the affairs of the holy shrine, has downplayed the ASI’s concern, saying it is “not a big issue.”

Flowers had been brought from different parts of the country to decorate the temple during the Rath Yatra which draws lakhs of devotees from across the country and from abroad.

Colourful garlands strung using the flowers were hung from nails which were driven into the ancient structure at its grand entrance and other parts.

“The temple administration has not taken prior permission before using iron nails on the structure. The Shree Jagannath Temple is an ancient and protected monument,” Arun Malik, ASI superintending archaeologist, Bhubaneswar circle, who is in Delhi told PTI over phone.

He was, however, not aware of the number of iron nails used.

None can take any decision on ancient monuments like Shree Jagannath Temple without proper permission from experts, Malik said, adding that he has submitted a report to the ASI director general on the incident.

“I had informed the ASI DG after getting a report from our Puri office,” he said.

Replying to a question, Malik said he could not raise objections immediately during the Rath Yatra in view of the religious sentiments of the people.

SJTA chief administrator P K Mohapatra, however, rejected the allegation terming it as “not a big issue.”

“When decorating houses with flowers, one will need nails to hang garlands. Those do not harm the house. How can they (iron nails) harm a huge structure like the Jagannath Temple? ” Mohapatra told PTI.

SJTA sources said the body will allow flower decoration on the temple during ‘Bahuda’ (return car festival) and ‘Sunabesha’ (gold attire of the dieties) ceremonies of the Rath Yatra festival.