Touching deities: SJTA move opposed

Bhubaneswar: The row over touching the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra continued as the Daitapati priests today opposed the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration’s decision of not allowing devotees to climb the bathing podium on the Snan Purnima Day (bathing rituals) scheduled to be held on June 2.

“We have urged the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) to reconsider its decision. If the administration does not heed to our request, it will be responsible for the consequences during Nabakelabara festival,” warned assistant secretary of Daitapati Nijog Binayak Dasmohpatra.

The SJTA in a meeting with different sections of the Jagannath temple priests yesterday, had decided not to allow devotees to touch the trinity on the bathing podium.

“The meeting decided not to allow any person other than priests to touch the deities on the bathing podium,” said SJTA chief administrator Suresh Chandra Mohapatra.

Mohapatra, however, said the devotees would be given more time for the darshan of the deities this year in view of the ensuing Nabakelabara festival.

Terming the decision as “unfortunate,” the Daitapati priests alleged the temple administration had not sought their opinion and has taken a suo motu decision in this regard.

The SJTA meeting had approved a proposal to allow Shankaracharya of Gobardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati to the bathing podium.

Replying to a question on the resentment of Daitapati priests, Mohapatra said “SJTA will have a separate meeting with each Nijog on this issue.”

The SJTA had last year banned devotees climbing the chariots and touching the trinity despite protests from the Daitapati priests.