Odisha Nabakalebara: Rift in Banajaga team comes to the fore

Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Puri/Konark, Apr 2:

The divide within the Banajaga Yatra team was out in the open again on Wednesday as differences surfaced over the timing of the start of the journey from the Konark Open Air Theatre resting place towards Narua Shankareswar temple and resting places en-route.

Banajaga YatrisAs per earlier announced schedule, the Banajaga team was to move from the Konark Open Air Theatre resting place towards Narua Shankareswar temple in the afternoon. While one faction in the team was rigid on commencing the onward journey at the earlier specified time, another faction demanded change in timing on account of body ache owing to the bare foot journey.

The issue was partially resolved after intervention of the Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in the matter though one faction of the team commenced its journey as per earlier announced schedule despite SJTA’s advice not to do so and reached at Narua Shankareswar temple at 9.45 PM.

The faction that left first for Narua Shankareswar temple had around 40 members of the team including Lord Jagannath’s chief Badagrahi (body protector) Jagannath Swain Mohapatra and Lenka sevayat in it. The Banajaga team, which had started its journey from Jagannath Ballav Mutt on the intervening night of Monday-Tuesday after halts at Balighai and Ramachandi, arrived at Konark on Wednesday around 7.40 AM. After having their bath, breakfast and singing of bhajans (paeans to the Lords) the team members took rest at the Konark Open Air Theatre.

“We had plans for commencing our bare foot journey from Konark towards Narua Shankareswar temple at 4 PM in the afternoon. Later in view of the scorching heat and exhaustion of the team members it was decided to start the journey at 6 PM. Many sevayats (servitors) in the team had fallen ill after covering 35.5 km stretch from Puri and had developed blisters on their soles and some Daitapatis had sought for delaying the commencement of the journey from Konark. Some had opposed it and were rigid on starting the journey in the evening. They proposed for taking rest at Darshanibanta Mutt at Balidokan without going straight to Narua Shankareswar temple. SJTA officials tried their best to reason with them that since Darshanibanta Mutt had not figured in the earlier schedule no arrangements have been made there”, informed Haladhar Mohapatra, dalapati (team leader) of the Banajaga Yatra team.

Sensing trouble, SJTA chief administrator Suresh Chandra Mohapatra rushed to Konark Open Air Theatre at around 5 PM and discussed with the dalapati and senior Daitapatis.

After discussions, Mohapatra and president of Daitapati Nijog Ramakrushna Das Mohapatra briefed the media that the timing of commencement of this leg of the journey has been changed in view of the illness of the team members.

“In view of the illness of the sevayats the timing of the padayatra (bare foot march) has been changed. As per the fresh decision taken – after the arrival of Mahaprasad from Puri at 9 PM the team after having dinner  and two hours of rest thereafter will leave for Shankareswar at 11 PM. After covering the 16 km stretch sevayats will take rest at the resting place at Narua arranged by the SJTA”, said the chief administrator.

Despite the administration’s announcement of the change in schedule a faction of the Daitapatis started their padayatra towards Narua at around 5.30 PM on Wednesday evening, informed Laxmidhar Pujapanda, information officer SJTA. He has however, clarified that there was no dispute among the sevayats. There are 40 sevayats among them and as per the rule Lenka sevayat has accompanied them, he added.

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