BHUBANESWAR/PURI: Heavens opened up as chants of vedic hymns reverberated in the air, hours before Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb offered ‘purna ahuti’ ending the three-day ‘mahayagna’ and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik dedicated the Srimandir Parikrama (Heritage Corridor) project to devotees.
Despite rain, devotees from within and outside the state began arriving at the 12th-century shrine early in the morning to offer prayers and get a feel of the grand Parikrama project. As per a rough estimate of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), close to one lakh people visited the town to witness the grand addition to the shrine.
A group of 12 devotees who had come to Puri from Badrinath, Uttarakhand, for the first time said they were lucky to have arrived in the pilgrim town on a historic day. “We have been on a tour of pilgrimage sites since January 4. Although we were exhausted by the time we reached Puri yesterday, the sight of the beautiful temple and its surroundings was mind-boggling. This has been the most beautiful part of our journey because we reached on a day when the grand parikrama was being inaugurated,” said Bhavan Agarwal, a devotee.
Similarly, excitement was writ large on the faces of devotees within Odisha. For them, the new look 12th-century shrine and its expansive corridor was a blessing. “We have been coming here every month for the last one decade and have seen the temple choked with encroachments for ages. There was little space for us to even move around the temple. This transformation is one-of-a-kind,” said Bhabagrahi Pradhan, a devotee from Choudwar.
Terming it a welcome change, Jagannath culture expert Surjya Narayan Rath Sharma said the heritage corridor project was the need of the hour. In Srimandir, there is a tradition of parikrama around the four directions of Meghanada Pacheri, particularly during the Hindu month of Kartika. It is believed that by doing the parikrama around the shrine thrice, a devotee - be it a Hindu or a non-Hindu - can attain moksha due to which it is also called Nitya Baikuntha.”Today, Srimandir is not just a shrine limited to Puri but its popularity has crossed global boundaries which is why a project of this magnitude was a necessity,” he said.
The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) had also made all arrangements for smooth darshan of the deities inside the sanctum sanctorum for the devotees. After 3 pm, the parikrama corridor was opened to public. Along with the Parikrama project, the Shree Setu and Shree Jagannath Ballav Pilgrim Centre were also opened to public on the day after the inauguration.
Sankaracharya skips inauguration
Even as the SJTA had invited Shankaracharya of Puri Gobardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati to the inauguration, the seer gave the event a miss. Public relations officer of Gobardhan Peetha Matru Prasad Mishra said the Shankaracharya was in West Bengal’s Ganga Sagar during Makar Sankranti to attend Ganga Sagar mela and perform Ganga Aarti. “Since he had his itinerary planned before the Parikrama invitation, he was unable to attend,” he said
Pandian visited Puri 400 times in 4 yrs
With the launch of Srimandir Parikrama project, a dream has come to true for the people of Odisha. But, the man who gave shape to such a grand plan laced with complexities and difficulties was Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s trusted lieutenant VK Pandian. Entrusted with the responsibility by the CM, Pandian left no stone unturned to make it a reality in the shortest possible time. Pandian visited Puri 400 times during the last four years, mostly at 4 am, to supervise and review the progress of the project
Plea to retain ‘yagna mandaps’
Sotriya Brahmins appointed by Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb for the yajnas urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and chairman of 5T Initiatives and Nabin Odisha VK Pandian to retain the four ‘yagna kundas’. The ‘yagna mandaps’ were set up for the three-day ‘maha yagna’ that started on Makar Sankranti for parikrama inauguration. Pandit Biswambar Das said the ‘yagna kundas’ can be used to revive the tradition of ‘maha yagnas’ in the shrine