Puri: Their expertise in chariot construction for the annual Rath Yatra of Srimandir deities has been appreciated by devotees from across the globe, but they are living a life of misery due to poor financial condition.
Even, these Maharana (carpenter) and Rupakara (sculptor) servitors of the 12th century shrine have been facing financial crunch to repair their cyclone-ravaged houses, sources said.
Maharana servitor Narasingha Mahapatra has been performing his duty as the main carpenter (Vishwakarma) for the construction of Taladhwaja chariot of Lord Balabhadra for last several years. His deft hands have been turning woods into a majestic chariot for the Rath Yatra.
But, Narasingha and five other members of his family have been residing in a damaged house at the Gudia Sahi here for last 15 months. Narasingha’s house had been damaged by cyclonic storm Fani that made a landfall on Odisha coast May 3 last year.
Narasingha had approached the administration time and again for some assistance to repair his house but to no avail. “I received remuneration for this year’s chariot construction. But, the amount was spent on our daily expenses. I couldn’t arrange money to repair my house. This Covid-19 pandemic has also prevented us from doing some carpentry work,” rued Narasingha.
Rupakar servitor Purnachandra Mahapatra has also been living in a cyclone-damaged house at the Pala Harchandi Sahi here. He had also raised his plight before the government officials several times. But, no one has come forward to assist him. “I do not know when I would be able to repair my house. I have left the issue to Lord Jagannath,” said Purnachandra, the head sculptor for Taladhwaja chariot.
Not only Narasingha and Purnachandra but also many other servitors of Srimandir are also living under acute financial distress. But, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and the Puri district administration are yet to extend a helping hand to these poor servitors, sources said.
It is worth mentioning here that the SJTA had conducted a socio-economic survey on the Srimandir servitors in the 2014-15 financial year. But, no concrete step was taken to improve the financial condition of poor servitors, sources added.
Recently, SJTA chief administrator Krishan Kumar announced that the temple authorities would once again conduct a socio-economic survey on the servitors.
Meanwhile, Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee member, Madhab Chandra Mahapatra, visited Narasingha’s house and took stock of his financial condition. “We will do something for him,” he said.