Ileana Citaristi ‘manhandled’ atop chariot

Puri: Even as the Jagannath temple administration claimed to have conducted a hassle-free Rath Yatra this year, the nine-day long festival slipped into controversy on the last day with Italian Odissi dancer Padma Shri Ileana Citaristi alleging ill-treatment by servitors atop chariot on Sunday.
 
The foreign national settled in Odisha alleged in her FIR that she was beaten up by a servitor on the chariot while seeking blessings of Lord Jagannath. She mentioned in the complaint that the daitapti on the chariot of Lord Jagannath asked her to pay Rs 1,000 after the darshan and when she denied, a servitor hit her head three times.
 
“When I paid Rs 20 to a servitor, he did not accept and rather demanded Rs 1,000. As I refused, he hit my head three times and shouted foreigner…foreigner. Lord Jagannath gives darshan once in a year to the devotees who are not allowed inside the temple. I was completely shocked to see the behaviour of the servitor and such a manner is really regrettable,” Ileana said.
 
On the other hand, Daitapati Niyog has expressed regret over the matter. The Niyog appealed Ileana not to take the matter forward and has sought an amicable solution.
 
“I deeply regret if any servitor has ill-treated her. Ileana is a famous artist of Odisha and gets involved in many cultural activities. So, she should solve the matter amicably”, Daitapati Niyog president Ramakrushna said.
 
Meanwhile, condemning the incident chief temple administrator Arvind Padhee said, ”We have received a complaint from Ileana Citaristi against one servitor for misbehaving her. We are probing the matter and will take action as per law.”
 
Last year a foreigner was thrashed by some servitors atop the chariot which had created much hue and cry among the lovers of Jagannath culture. The temple administration and the Daitapati Niyog were on loggerheads following the incident which had prompted the former to decide that no devotees would be allowed on the chariots from this year. 
 
However, the administration later withdrew its decision due to daitapatis’ opposition and sought the suggestion of Puri Sankaracharya over the matter.