Won

Puri: A day after the Puri police served notice to Daitapati Niyog president and chief servitor of Lord Jagannath to reply on alleged ill-treatment to Odissi dancer Ileana Citaristi during Bahuda Yatra, chief servitor of Lord Jagannath on Thursday said from next year foreigners would not be allowed to climb atop chariots for darshan of deities.
 
“I was disheartened after being informed about the incident involving the renowned artiste. However, to avoid such instances in the coming days, we have decided not to allow any foreigner to climb the chariots during Rath Yatra from next year,” Lord Jagannath's chief servitor, Jagannath Swain Mohapatra said.
 
Condemning the incident, Mohapatra said that the Odissi danseuse should not have hyped the trivial matter. “As I was apprised, Citaristi had come for darshan of Lord Jagannath on the chariot during Bahuda Yatra, when the Abakash ritual was being performed. She was asked by an aged servitor to keep some distance from the idol since the ritual demands such a custom and she took the matter seriously,” Mohapatra said adding “we want to close the matter here.”
 
According to the chief servitor, all the rituals in this year’s Rath Yatra beginning from Mahasnana (Bathing of deities) to Sunabesha and Niladri Bije were performed with much discipline. “As per my knowledge this year’s nine-day festival passed off in the most peaceful manner and the footfall was not less than 40 lakh,” Mohapatra said. 
 
Notably, Italy-born Odissi danseuse Ileana Citaristi, a Padma Shri awardee, was allegedly ‘manhandled’ by some priests on the chariot of Lord Jagannath on July 21. She had lodged complaint in this regard acting on which Singhadwar police issued notice to the Daitapati Niyog president Ramakrushna Das Mohapatra and chief priest (Badagrahi) Jagannath Swain Mohapatra to reply on the matter.