Devotee on chariot: Servitor blasts admin

Puri: Controversies continue to mar the mega Nabakalebar Rath Yatra as the Badagrahi (idol protector) of Lord Jagannath, who was served a show-cause notice yesterday for allowing a woman devotee atop the Lord’s chariot Nandigosha, hit back today alleging that by serving the notice, a controversy is being created intentionally.

Accusing Srimandir chief administrator Suresh Mohapatra of creating disturbances, he stated that it is the duty of the administration to check such lapses, and not his.

Without mincing his words, Jagannath Swain Mohapatra said, “It is not my job to check who climbs atop chariots. It is the duty of the administration. After a peaceful Rath Yatra, the chief administrator of the temple is trying to stir up a controversy by unnecessarily serving a show-cause notice to me.”

Notably, Artatrana Pratihari, the ‘Pratihari’ servitor of Jagannath temple, was suspended by the temple administration on charges of helping the woman devotee to climb the chariot on Tuesday. The temple’s chief administrator told the media that the action was taken against the servitor under Section 21(B) of Srimandir Administration Act.

Video footage shows that Pratihari had taken the woman devotee along with him onto the chariot during ‘Adapa Pahandi’ ritual of the deity on Tuesday.

Last year, the Orissa High Court had ruled that no devotee should be allowed to climb the chariots and touch the deities during the annual Rath Yatra in Puri.