The management of 300-year-old Jagannath temple in the Kendrapara district of Odisha is deliberating with the government and local community members for removal of barricade near the sanctum sanctorum for unhindered darshan of the lord. The temple had hogged spotlight over a decade back over caste flare-up on dalits’ right for darshan of Lord.
The dalits were earlier denied access into the temple and were only allowed to peep through the inbuilt holes on the temple boundary wall to catch glimpse of the lord. However, after days of simmering dispute that had threatened to disrupt peace, the upper castes had relented and the dalits had broken the age-old barriers by entering the temple on January 14, 2007. The Orissa High Court had also ruled that the dalits have the right to enter any Hindu temple.
Till 2006, members of the dalit communities were paying obeisance through the nine holes created on the temple wall while upper caste people had access to the main temple. The issue of dalit entry into temple had made two communities confront each other. The administration had later brokered a truce between the warring groups. It had been amicably settled then that the sanctum sanctorum of the temple will remain out of bounds for devotees.
Both the caste groups were permitted access into the temple premises. But, the devotees could have darshan from outside the temple structure from a barricaded site. The in-built holes of the outer wall, that symbolised the caste divide, had also been blocked by the district administration.
However, devotees and followers of Jagannath cult were disappointed over denial of lord’s darshan from a close distance. “So we have begun the process for removal of barricade structure so that everybody could go close to the deity for darshan. People from all sections will be taken into confidence. The administration will also play a role in un-barricaded darshan”, said Sibendra Bhanjadeo, scion of Kanika Jamindari and trustee of the temple.
The matter has been taken up for discussion. Dibyasingh Deb, regarded as Puri King who heads Shree Jagannath Temple Administration, Puri, has assured us of all helps, he said. Rajkanika Tahasildar Nihar Ranjan Mallick said no proposal has been received by us from any quarters in this regard so far. However the administration will act as facilitator if consensus emerges over this sensitive issue.