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ODISHA

Aam aadmi and the Lord

NOT only has Lord Jagannath become the identity of a common Odia, the rituals and practices around
the deity are the biggest industry for Puri, the temple town.

It’s no secret that the servitors at Puri Sri Jagannath Temple are a pampered lot. Just 6 months back they humbled the Law Minister, Sri Bikarm Keshari Arukh, by refusing to obey his directives. Then, as it is now, the issue was keeping the temple open late into the night for facilitating an easy darshan for the visiting pilgrims. 

With much better connectivity and the rising living standards many an Odia wants to visit Puri and have a darshan of the lord. Electricity, incandescent bulbs, modern amenities and Indian Railways have made the temples accessible at all hours and hence the demand to keep the temple open for longer hours. 

The direct beneficiaries of this increased traffic are the servitors; yet, they have their own idiosyncrasies. They interpret the temple rules as it suits them and take offence to slightest slights. However, this time around the good news is: the green backs have once again proved to be the universal lords!  

Going against the established traditions, the joint body of various servitors’ groups decided that the temple will remain open through the night of 31 December 2012! This augured well with the new trend, where a large number of devotees queue up on the advent of a new year, ultra nationalists claiming this to be a Christian new year, not withstanding! Hope, this juggernaut of social reforms would continue to roll forward and in temple administration many more archaic practices would also bid ‘good bye.’

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