Ratna Bhandar panel sets date of July 14 for its reopening

The 16-member committee constituted for supervising the inventorisation of jewellery and other valuables stored in Ratna Bhandar met for the second time in Puri on July 9.
It was decided that both the Bahara (outer) and Bhitara (inner) enclosures of the Ratna Bhandar can be opened on July 14 for both inventorisation and conservation works.
It was decided that both the Bahara (outer) and Bhitara (inner) enclosures of the Ratna Bhandar can be opened on July 14 for both inventorisation and conservation works.Photo | Express

BHUBANESWAR/PURI : The Justice Biswanath Rath Committee has proposed to reopen the Ratna Bhandar of Shree Jagannath temple on July 14 with approval of the state government.

The 16-member committee constituted under chairmanship of retired judge of Orissa High Court, Justice Rath, for supervising the inventorisation of jewellery and other valuables stored in Ratna Bhandar met for the second time in Puri on Tuesday.

It was decided that both the Bahara (outer) and Bhitara (inner) enclosures of the Ratna Bhandar can be opened on July 14 for both inventorisation and conservation works. The proposal will be moved to the state government for approval.

As per Shri Jagannath Temple Rules, 1960, the Ratna Bhandar locks can only be opened under special orders of the state government and subject to such conditions and limitations as it may decide. “Complying with the rules, we have submitted the proposal of opening the Ratna Bhandar to the temple management committee which will discuss and send it to the state government for approval,” Justice Rath told mediapersons after the meeting. 

Justice Rath panel proposes Ratna Bhandar’s reopening on July 14

He said the standard operating procedure (SOP) for opening of the Ratna Bhandar, inventory and conservation work has been drawn and will be submitted to the management committee for seeking government approval. “An unanimous decision was taken by the committee that Ratna Bhandar will be opened on July 14 even if the existing key to the treasury does not match with the lock. Accordingly, the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) will hand over the key to the committee on July 14.”

Before the repair and conservation work of the treasury starts, the valuables will be shifted to a designated site identified by the temple management. 

“Since the temple records state that the jewels and ornaments of the Trinity cannot be taken outside Srimandir, the designated room for storing the valuables is inside the temple. In this room, the jewels and ornaments will be stored as per the schedule - Category 1, 2 and 3,” he said.

Stating that inventory of the valuables is a lengthy process and the exact time period cannot be ascertained as of now, Justice Rath said, separate teams of experts and competent authorities will be formed for the purpose. “The ornaments and jewellery are very old and rare now. To identify them, we need competent goldsmiths, metallurgists who will be selected by the government,” he said.

As Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra will return to Srimandir on July 19 following Niladri Bije, there are chances that the inventorisation and conservation works may hamper ‘darshan’. “The SOP that we have proposed takes care of this aspect. There will be some issues in ‘darshan’ of the deities for the devotees but we will take utmost care that temple rituals are not affected during the process,” he said.

The last Ratna Bhandar inventory was done from May 13 to July 23 in 1978.

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