Daitapati priests oppose Puri seer’s recommendation

Bhubaneswar: "Daitapati" priests of Sri Jagannath Temple in Puri have unanimously decided to oppose the temple administration's decision of not allowing devotees to climb chariots during annual rath jatra.

Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) had recently decided not to allow any person to climb chariots on the basis of the recommendation of Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati. The Puri seer made the recommendation after consulting Hindu religious scholars and experts.

However, Daitapatis, a section of priests who remain in charge of Lord Jagannath when the deities move out of the temple for rath jatra, in their general body meeting last night at Puri resolved that they would not accept SJTA's ban on the devotees to climb the chariots.

"We condemn the recommendation of Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati and the subsequent ban decision by the temple administration," said Premananda Dasmohapatra, Secretary of Daitapati 'Nijog' (association).

They claimed that devotees climbing chariots and touching deities during rath jatra had been a long-standing practice in Puri temple.

The Daitapatis have also threatened not to cooperate with the SJTA in performing rituals.

SJTA chief administrator Aravind Padhee said: "We will hold discussion with the daitapatis."

SJTA had before this year's rath jatra, decided not to allow devotees to climb chariots. But, it had to change the decision in the face of the stiff opposition from Daitapatis.

The Sankaracharya Matha's functionaries, however, said that the seer's recommendation was based on religious scriptures.