Bhubaneswar: The Govardhan Peeth, the seat of Puri Shankaracharya, today slammed the Odisha Government for not imposing a blanket ban on devotees climbing chariots during Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra and demanded to reconsider its decision.
“The state government should reconsider its decision and impose complete ban during the entire festival. No decision should be taken in a haste,” official spokesman of Govardhan Peeth Manoj Kumar Rath said here.
Stating that the government’s decision leaves ample scope for priests and servitors to allow devotees to climb on the chariots and touch the deities, Rath appealed people to raise their voice to protest the move.
In absence of Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, Rath along with Govardhan Peeth Council chairman Amiya Kumar Mohapatra and Biswamber Das, Vice-President of Mukti Mandap Pandit Sabha of Sri Jagannth Temple, rejected the state government’s decision of allowing the devotees to climb the chariots and touching the deities.
Incidentally, Shankaracharya in his recommendation to Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, had made it clear that climbing the chariots and touching the deities was ‘Maha Paap (Sin)’ according to Hindu customs. However, Daitapati priests were opposed to these views leading to a controversy.
The state government after consulting Daitapati Nijog (association of Daita priests) had announced that devotees would not be allowed to climb chariots on the three days Rath Yatra Day, Bahuda (festival to mark the chariot’s return) and Suna Bhesa.
People, however, would be allowed to climb the chariots on other days during the festival.
The Govardhan Peeth expressed its displeasure over the manner in which the state government, allegedly under pressure from Daitapati priests, allowed devotees to climb the chariots and touching the deities after pulling of Raths.