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Congress announces 'Tulsi Yatra' in Odisha to protest against 'mismanagement' at Puri temple

Bhubaneswar: The opposition Congress in Odisha announced that it will undertake a ‘Tulsi Yatra’, in which tulsi or basil leaves will be collected from houses across 314 blocks of the state and offered to Lord Jagannath in Puri, as a mark of protest over alleged mismanagement at the 12th-century shrine.

The decision was taken hours after 10 devotees fell unconscious on Friday due to heavy rush at the temple, state Congress president Sarat Pattnayak said.

A huge number of people visit the temple this time of the year as it is the holy month of ‘Kartik’, he said, adding that they are facing difficulties as the administration closed three of the four gates, and is allowing entry only through the ‘Singha Dwar’.

“We demand the opening of all the gates in order to avoid major accidents, like a stampede, as more devotees will visit the temple during the ‘Panchuka’ — the last five days of Kartik,” Pattnayak said.

The date of the ‘yatra’ will be decided soon, he said.

Tulsi leaves will be collected from houses in all 314 blocks of the state and brought to the party’s state headquarters in Bhubaneswar, and from there, the holy leaves will be taken to Puri and offered to Lord Jagannath, he said.

The Congress block presidents will lead the programme, and people from all walks of life will be brought in for it, he added.

Pattnayak said his party was worried over the safety of devotees visiting the temple, and the treasures in its ‘Ratna Bhandar’, which has been closed since 1978.

Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Ranjan Kumar Das said the three gates of the temple are closed because of the ongoing work for the heritage corridor project.

To this, the Congress leader said that the project work could wait, but not the holy month of Kartik.

(Published 11 November 2023, 09:45 IST)

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