Priests perform Pahandi rituals in Puri

Puri: Setting aside their anger against the police which allegedly beat them up, the priests of Sri Jagannath Temple on Tuesday performed "Pahandi" rituals of taking the deities into Sri Gundicha Temple.

"We decided to perform pahandi ritual as the deities are stranded over the chariots for a day. As priests, it is our duty to serve the Lord first before settling score with the police," Premananda Das Mohapatra, secretary of Daitapati Nijog, said.

The ceremonial Pahandi ritual started with beating of cymbals, conch shells and amidst shouting of "Hari Bol and Jai Jagannth" as the priests carried the deities.

Two days after their journey from the 12th century shrine, the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and their sister Devi Subhadra were stranded as priests refused to do Pahandi, demanding action against policemen responsible for the lathicharge.

However, other rituals were performed by the priests and servitors on the three chariots outside Gundicha temple, considered aunt`s house of the trinity.

Before ending the deadlock, the sevayats or priests held a marathon meeting of their own. The priests unanimously agreed that the rituals should not be affected due to "unruely" behaviour of the police.

Earlier, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik hoped that the priests would cooperate in performing rituals as the four erring police personnel had been suspended from the service.

Gajapati Maharaja of Puri, Divya Singh Deva had also appealed to the sevayats to perform the Pahandi ritual and asked Sri Jagannath Temple administration to make proper arrangements for smooth conduct of Rathyatra festival.

At least 24 people comprising 10 priests and 14 devotees – were injured in cane charge by police to control the surging crowd atop `Nandighosh`, the chariot of Lord Jagannath at Gundicha temple yesterday.

The incident took place when the police tried to control the large number of devotees jostling atop the wooden chariot to watch the `Abakash` ritual of Lord Jagannath, officials said.

Meanwhile, the priests at their meeting unanimously passed a resolution condemning the state government, the chief minister, the law minister, the revenue divisional commissioner, central division and leader of Orissa police`s havildar federation.