Srimandir reforms: Servitors threaten to quit as SJTA expedites implementation

Puri: As the Puri Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) looks to streamline one measure after the other suggested by the Supreme Court of India as part of the reforms for the 12th century shrine, servitors of the temple have openly shown their displeasure over the move and threatened to quit in case of any setback to their livelihood.

After the Supreme Court rap over allegations of harassment of devotees and other irregularities in management at the temple on June 8, the temple administration has now begun to implement several reforms suggested by the apex court.

As part of the process, the temple management has stressed on abolition of direct donation collection from devotees, installation of CCTV cameras to keep tab on activities inside the temple. In the next phase it looks to streamline Mahaprasad service inside the Ananda Bazaar.

Sources said in the latest development, the temple administration has held a discussion with the Suar Mahasuar Nijog for handing over the Rosasala of the temple on lease.

On the other hand, the servitors are unhappy over the activities of the temple administration which has started to expedite the measures just after the conclusion of the annual Rath Yatra.

Servitors rue over the move citing undue interference of the temple administration in the centuries old traditions at the shrine. Blaming the administration, some servitors have warned to quit.

“If the administration interferes in all our ‘Daan, Dakshina’ and other allied issues, we will lose our livelihood. If the administration thinks that we will just sit and serve without any livelihood, it is wrong. We will simply hand over the keys to the Gajapati and quit our service,” said Suar Mahasuar Nijog President Damodar Mahasuar.

“If the Supreme Court’s judgements go against us after its final hearing on September 5, we will quit the rituals,” said senior servitor Binayak Dasmohapatra.

“We don’t support the court or the administration’s decision regarding the matter,” said servitor Manoranjan Singhari.

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) will submit an affidavit by end of this month on steps taken after the apex court’s directives. The SC appointed amicus curiae will be visiting the temple this month to hold discussions on the matter with various stakeholders and the apex court will hear on the matter on September 5.

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