‘Handi Bhanga’ ritual of Lord Lingaraj suspended for fifth consecutive year

Bhubaneswar: The long-standing dispute between two sects of servitors has once again resulted in suspension of ‘Handi Bhanga’ ritual of Lord Lingaraj at the 11th century shrine in Bhubaneswar.

According to information, the ‘Handi Bhanga’ ritual of Lord Lingaraj is conducted every year on the first Saturday following Maha Shivaratri. As per the practice, Lord Lingaraj is taken out in a procession to Kapileswar Temple and the lord returns after being worshipped.

In 2015, a disagreement surfaced between the priests from Lingaraj and Kapileswar temples over conduct of the ‘Handi Bhanga’ ritual following which the ceremony was called off. Despite multiple attempts by the temple administration and the State government to resolve the controversy, the ritual is yet to be conducted since then.

On the other hand, the Brahmin Nijog and local leaders have blamed the State government for the logjam.

“Despite orders from the Endowment Commission directing restoration of the ritual, the State government has failed to implement the directive. Just like last four times, the Handi Bhanga ritual of the Lord could not be held this year due to lack of administrative-level action,” said Secretary of Lingaraj Brahmin Nijog, Biranchi Narayan Pati.

Local Congress leader, Rashmi Mohapatra also leveled similar allegations saying, “Had the administration or the State government taken the matter seriously, the ritual would have been conducted this year.”