Servitors to stand guard at Srimandir doors to stop entry of non-Hindus

The Shree Jagannath Temple Act, 1955, prohibits entry of non-Hindus into the shrine.
Shree Jagannath temple at Puri
Shree Jagannath temple at PuriPhoto | Express

BHUBANESWAR: In the wake of frequent instances of non-Hindus entering the Shree Jagannath temple at Puri in recent days, the servitors have decided to take the matter into their own hands and guard the shrine’s doors to prevent such occurrences.

Secretary of a servitor body Pratihari Nijog, Ram Narayan Gochikar said beginning ‘Pana Sankranti’ on April 14, two Pratihari sevayats (servitors) of the temple will stand guard at the ‘Singhadwara’ or Lions Gate to prevent entry of non-Hindus into the temple. In the first phase, they will do so twice a day - once during ‘Dwara Phita’ ritual in the morning and then again during ‘Sandhya Arati’ in the evening.

The Shree Jagannath Temple Act, 1955, prohibits entry of non-Hindus into the shrine. A proposal was earlier submitted by the Pratihari servitors to the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) which has been accepted. It is, however, yet to be vetted by the temple managing committee and the Chhatisha Nijog.

As per the record of rights of Shree Jagannath temple, Pratihari servitors have been assigned Singhadwara Pratihari Seva under which they are responsible for managing the crowd in the temple, keeping a watch on movement of devotees and maintaining guard during movement of ‘bhoga’ from the temple kitchen to the sanctum sanctorum, among other things.

The seva was discontinued over a decade back owing to various reasons and currently, police maintain a vigil on the crowd entering the shrine. Besides, Jatri Sahayaks/Pandas (servitors engaged to assist devotees inside Srimandir) are used to identify non-Hindus in the temple.

“Despite these arrangements, non-Hindus have been able to enter the temple on many occasions this year. Pratihari sevaks have been traditionally guarding the temple against such devotees and we had proposed to resume the Singhadwara Pratihari Seva recently. The SJTA has approved it,” said Gochikar. In the subsequent days, the number of Pratiharis to be deployed for the purpose and at other gates of the temple will be increased, he said.

Sources said there are 120 categories of sevayats in Srimandir of whom, the majority are Suara, Maha Suara and Pratihari. Last month, nine Bangladeshi nationals were caught while entering Srimandir unaware of the fact that only Hindu devotees can enter the temple. Subsequently, two more such incidents have been reported.

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