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Cong plans 'sankirtan satyagrahas' on Nov 9 to demand opening of 4 gates of Puri's Jagannath temple

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Sunday said it will organise ‘sankirtan satyagrahas’ near all the Jagannath temples of the state on November 9 to press for the reopening of the four gates of Puri’s Jagannath temple.

OPCC president Sarat Pattanayak announced this during a press conference at the Congress Bhawan here.

On October 16, the party had organised a rally on Puri’s Grand Road demanding reopening of all the four gates of the 12th century shrine for devotees and even submitted a memorandum to the governor through the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), Pattnayak said.

“We had requested the BJD government to reopen all the four gates for devotees by October 28 (before the beginning of Odia holy month ‘Kartik’). But the state government did not take any steps,” he said.

Due to the state government’s attitude, devotees from across the country and outside are forced to stand in long queues while visiting the temple, he said.

Similarly, the Ratna Bhandar (the temple’s treasury) hasn’t been reopened for repairs and inventory of ornaments and valuables for several years now, the Congress leader said.

“So we have decided to hold the ‘sankirtan satyagrahas’ in front of all Jagannath temples of Odisha from 9am to noon on November 9,” he said.

Earlier, the SJTA had informed the Orissa High Court through an affidavit that one-and-a-half quintals (149.46 kg) of gold and 184 kg of silver ornaments are in the Ratna Bhandar. The inventory was made when the treasure chest was last opened in 1978.

The entry of devotees to the temple through the four gates was closed on March 20, 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions. Later, when the situation improved, the Singhadwar (Lions Gate) was reopened for devotees.

In July this year, the government reopened the Paschim Dwar (west gate) only for Puri residents. “The pandemic has gone. Why is the government so reluctant to reopen the temple gates?” asked Congress leader Ganeswar Behera.

Former OPCC president Prasad Harichandan said the state government has claimed that all the three gates (excluding the Lions Gate) of the temple have remained closed for devotees because of the Parikrama project going around the temple.

“The Parikrama project started in December 2019. No one knows when it will be completed. So, without making further delay, the gates should be reopened so that devotees can have a hassle free darshan of Lord Jagannath,” Harichandan said.

(Published 29 October 2023, 14:36 IST)

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