Odisha govt bows to Daitapatis; to compensate ‘loss’

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri, Dec 12:

The meeting between the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and the Daitapati Nijog held today was ‘successful’, announced Suresh Mohapatra, officer on special duty (OSD) for the 2015 Nabakalebara festival in Odisha’s pilgrim town of Puri.

Touching the idols Rath Yatra

Mohapatra said meetings between SJTA and the Daitapati Nijog will be held every ten days. He said a letter had been written to the Law department on the issue of payment of compensation to Daitapatis for the losses suffered by them during the last Rath Yatra on account of the ban on devotees climbing the chariots as was promised by the government.

The senior bureaucrat informed that the meeting was attended by president and secretary of the Daitapati Nijog.

It may be noted that daitapatis play a vital role during the Nabakalebara festival of Lord Jagannath.

The Daitapati Nijog, the representative body of Daitapatis, who are the ‘protectors’ of the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, had vehemently opposed the decision of the SJTA not to allow devotees to climb the chariots or touch the deities during the Rath Yatra this year. It was Mohapatra who had brokered peace with them to end the impasse.

Apprehensive of the smooth conduct of the Rath Yyatra this year in view of the logjam over the restriction on devotees climbing chariots and touching the deities on the chariots, Chief minister Naveen Patnaik had appointed Mohapatra as the Special Officer in charge of the Rath Yatra as Mohapatra is known for his good rapport with the daitapatis and had also been the chief administrator of the SJTA as well as the Puri collector earlier.

In fact, it was during his tenure as the Puri collector that the pratice of fixing a ladder to facilitate climbing of the chariots by the devotees was started for the first time in 2006.

It is widely believed believed former chief adminsitrator Arabinda Padhee, who took on the Daitapatis on the issue of climbing of the chariots, was first sidelined and then shunted out of SJTA and Mohapatra brought in to assuage the hurt servitors.

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