Sonepur: People visiting temples in Subarnapur district return without ‘prasad’ thanks to shortage of funds with the temple committees.
This is the sad plight of 27 temples in the district. Even though the temples have around 378 acres and the deities are decorated with gold ornaments worth crores of rupees, they have no money for ‘prasad,’ and this has outraged the devotees.
The priests said they get a mere Rs 10 to Rs40 per day to prepare ‘bhog,’ and that it is enough for only a handful of devotees. Moreover, most temple lands have been grabbed by land shark, the priests said.
Government reports say Subarnameru temple has 75.084 acres, Sureswari temple 7.42 acres, Samalei temple 172.939 acres, Rameswari temple 2.810 acres, Brundhaban Bihari temple 30 acres, Manikeswari temple 11.980 acres, Koleswar Mahadev temple 62.710 acres and Budhi Samalei temple 5.770 acres.
The endowment department provides Rs 1,000 every month for preparing bhog in Jagannath temple, Rs 1,200 in Subarnameru temple, Rs 300 in Baidyanath temple, Rs 800 in Brundhaban Bihari temple and Rs 500 in Hanuman temple.
But this is not enough to prepare bhog for all the devotees, the pujaris said, adding that they had submitted a written request to increase the amount, but their demands have not been considered.
Sonepur has around 108 small and big temples, and is often referred to as the second Prayag Khetra after Varanasi. However, even though centuries-old temples are on the verge of collapse, the government has done little to rehabilitate them.
The priests have no income even after serving for years. On most occasions, the priests have to ask devotees for money to prepare the bhog.
“Sureswari Mata is being offered bhog three times a day. But the amount we get to prepare ‘bhog’ can hardly buy the required items. We are trying to bring the matter to the notice of the officials concerned, but no one is bothered,” said priest Biranchit Thanapati.
“It is time the administration took remedial steps,” said Fakir Thanapati, another priest. Sonepur Sub-Collector Balram Mallick said he would look into the matter.