Jagannath Temple Priests to Purify Temple following Dalit Worship

December 17, 2006 at 7:11 am Leave a comment

Dec 16, KENDRAPADA, ORISSA (HPI) — Following the court ruling declaring their rights to enter the Jagannath temple regardless of the upper caste ban, Dalits on Thursday, with police protection, entered the temple in Keradagarh village and worshipped. A day after the 200 Dalits worshipped, the Jagannath temple’s priests said they would perform purification rituals before the temple reopened.

The temple’s chief priest, Madan Mohan Panda said, “We stopped all the rituals that have been regularly performed since decades after they (Dalits) entered the temple on Thursday. The Dalits have besmirched the religious traditions and made impure the temple. Now as per practice, we need to perform Maha Snana, a bath ritual of the deity.

We have already contacted the local royal family members, as the temple was built in the 18th century by their predecessors, to seek their permission to perform the purification rituals. Until the purification rituals are performed, the main gate of the temple would not be opened by us.”

With plans to disregard the court ruling, upper caste campaigner Suren Swain said, “We will organize a meeting of a large number of upper caste people on Saturday to chalk out plans to prevent any further entry of Dalits into the temple.”

Though Dalits had entered the temple with police protection on Thursday, it would be difficult for them to re-enter as most of the villagers are from the upper castes, Sethi said. Anticipating incidents, the local administration has deployed police forces in the village, a district police official said.

Police have also issued arrest warrants against three upper caste leaders – Managobinda Jena, Suren Swain, and Seshadev Nanda – for allegedly instigating people to oppose the entry of Dalits into the temple.

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