PURI: People from various walks of life pitched in for hassle-free darshan of the three deities of Jagannath Temple, abolition of hereditary rights of servitors as well as streamlining of “abhada” system before the three-member panel which sought proposals and suggestions from public here on Friday. At the public hearing held at office of Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), they presented their opinion over a slew of directions in the interim judgment of the apex court, which among other things include end of collection of dakshina from devotees by servitors and even donations.
Many also wanted regulated entry of the devotees to ensure that pilgrims face no trouble. Amid tight security, nearly 100 persons individually met the committee and placed their points. The panel will also explore the possibility of allowing non-Hindu devotees inside the temple. As per the Supreme Court’s recommendations, the SJTA had issued a notification seeking suggestions, either written or oral, on Srimandir reforms. Accordingly, the three-member expert panel, including former temple administrator Suresh Chandra Mohapatra, conducted the public hearing.
The three-member committee comprises Additional Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra, IG Soumendra Priyadarshi and Mahimohan Tripathy, former temple administrator and present member of temple managing body. The panel will study the existing norms and other welfare activities undertaken at major shrines including Vaishno Devi in the country and submit a report to the State Government. Members of Sri Jagannath Sevayat Sammillani staged a protest inside the office alleging improper manner of conducting the hearing. They said the public hearing should have been organised in an open public place.
Premananda Mohanty, president of Puri Bar Association said before organising public hearing, there should have been public announcement about its date, time and place. Mahapatra told mediapersons that several suggestions came in from public but the committee would give equal importance to suggestions of servitors. As per directions of the apex court, the committee toured Tirupati Devasthanam, Akshardham and Vaishno Devi temples and learnt about the reforms implemented there and their way of management. The committee would file its report adding the opinions of public in the Supreme Court.