Jostle for positions in Banajaga team gives fresh headache to Odisha govt

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Mar 26:

With just two days left for the Banajaga Yatra to begin, there seems to be no end to the internal strife within the Daitapati Nijog (key servitors in the Yatra) causing a big headache for the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in Odisha’s Puri.

banajaga yatra

After the announcement of the name of the dalapati (leader) of the Banajaga Yatra team, a fresh conflict has arisen over who will hold other key positions in the Yatra team which include upadalapati (deputy leader), biswabasu, two badagrahis and about who will do the ghata paribartan of the idols.

The conflict came out in the open after the SJTA received multiple applications for the positions other than that of the dalapati of the Banajaga Yatra team.

While three have applied to the SJTA for the position of the upadalapati, there are multiple applicants/aspirants for other positions too, revealed sources.

Sources said the Daitapati Nijog has arrived at a solution over the upadalapati position at its own level late yesterday evening but the conflict can only be said to be over after the formula worked out by them is accepted by the SJTA.

The Nijog, however, failed to take a decision on who all will conduct the ghata paribartan ritual of the Lords.

According to tradition the job of ghata paribartan of the Lords was entrusted to the senior most members from the Daitapati community.

But then no one is prepared to comply with the earlier practice. In the circumstances, the SJTA feels that taking a final decision on appointment to these posts without taking the Daitapati Nijog into confidence may lead to indiscipline during the Banajaga Yatra.

To make matters worse, a dispute has suddenly arisen over the positions of two Badagrahis (body protectors of the respective deities). Daitapatis, however, maintain that such claims have been arising for generations and can be solved through dialogue.

Persons in the know of things said if the Daitapati Nijog fails to resolve the issue at its level through discussions, the SJTA will be forced to take an ex-parte decision using its special powers to announce the names for positions other than those who will perform the ghata paribartan ritual.

It may be mentioned here that the Daitapati Nijog has been mired in conflict ever since preparations began for the Banajaga Yatra. Conflict started with the formation of the Banajaga Committee, which led to factions within the Nijog. It had reached a stage where it was on the verge of a split. Good sense, however, prevailed in the end with both factions arriving at a truce after negotiations between themselves.

Sources said the conflict has now reached the individual level and may get further complicated. The temple administration feels under such a situation the possibility of disruptions and indiscipline cannot be ruled out during the Yatra unless peace is brokered quickly, sources in administration said.

Since there is no alternative to the Daitapatis in the Nabakalebara process, the dispute over positions in the Banajaga team has been bothering the administration, more so with hardly two days left for the commencement of the Yatra.

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