Puri: Srimandir servitors have finalised the details to be submitted to the Supreme Court-appointed amicus curiae of the unique traditions and culture of the temple in the wake of the apex court’s suggestions to bring drastic reforms in the management of the 12th century shrine.
The Supreme Court had recently pronounced certain orders on Srimandir while taking up a case pertaining to the harassment of devotees inside the temple. The apex court had also suggested certain reform measures for the shrine by accepting the recommendations of Puri district judge in this regard.
The apex court has appointed senior advocate Gopal Subramanium as amicus curiae and asked him to submit a report on Srimandir after consulting all the shrine’s stakeholders.
Expressing concern over the harassment of devotees at Srimandir, the SC had banned collection of donations from people by the servitors on the shrine premises. As per the order, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has the authority to set up a hundi (donation box) at the shrine to collect donations from devotees.
The apex court had suggested the abolition of Srimandir servitors’ hereditary rights to perform rituals at the shrine. It had also asked the temple authorities and other stakeholders to deliberate on a proposal to allow non-Hindus into the shrine.
Moreover, the SC had supported a proposal that would enable the SJTA to manage the temple kitchen. Traditionally, the Suar and Mahasuar servitors of Srimandir are entitled to manage the shrine kitchen and cook Mahaprasad.
The temple servitors are vehemently opposing any move to end their hereditary rights to serve the presiding deities and perform their rituals. They are of the view that the practice of hereditary service at Srimandir was introduced long ago and any move to end that would affect the performance of many special and unique rituals at the shrine.
“We are performing many secret rituals at the shrine. One cannot find any mention on these secret rituals in religious texts. We have learnt details regarding these rituals form our ancestors. So, any move to end servitors’ hereditary rights would affect the performance of these secret rituals,” argued a servitor.
The temple servitors are also opposing the High Court order that prohibited them from collecting donations (dakshina). “Many of us depend on the dakshina or donations for livelihood. The HC order has hit us hard,” rued another servitor.
Apart from that, the servitors have expressed their displeasure over a proposal to allow non-Hindus into Srimandir. They claimed that the 12th century shrine had faced several attacks from hostile elements. So, opening the temple for people of all communities and religions will make Srimandir vulnerable for similar incidents in future, they argued.
The servitors have already met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Gajapati king Dibyasingha Dev to convey their grievances over the SC order. They also recently met Puri Shankaracharya Nischalanand Saraswati and sought his help and guidance to preserve the unique traditions of Srimandir.
The servitors have also constituted a five-member legal cell to study the Supreme Court order and prepare a report to apprise the amicus curiae of the unique traditions of the shrine. According to sources, the amicus curiae is likely to visit the shrine within a couple of days.
“We will raise all our grievances with the SC-appointed amicus curiae,” said legal cell member Rabindranath Pratihari.
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