**Bhubaneswar: ** On the blatant violation of ban imposed on both touching the deities and climbing up the chariot for darshan during the Puri Rath Yatra, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief Suresh Chandra Mahapatra revealed that a strong wave of resentment is brewing among the sebayats (Jagannath temple servitors) over Shankaracharya allegedly taking a contractor atop the chariots.
“A PIL has been filed in the Orissa High Court complaining that the six persons accompanying Shankaracharya atop the chariots for the last two years include two outsiders and one among them is a contractor while Shankaracharya is actually allowed with six sadhus and sanths,” said the SJTA chief while talking to media on Monday at the Secretariat here.
He also added that the list of names and identities of the six persons accompanying Shankaracharya has not been given to the SJTA.
Elucidating on the raging controversy, he said that the temple ROR does not prescribe any ‘nitis’ (rituals) to be performed by Shankaracharya on the chariots during Rath Yatra, except darshan.
“Once the verdict of the High Court comes on the PIL in which SJTA has also been made a party and has already apprised the court on the issue, the future course of action will be taken as per the final order of the court,” the SJTA chief said.
“Out of the 2000 odd sebayat families, 99% have abided by the ban imposed except one,” he defended.
He, however, said the district and police administrations have been taking actions against him and the SJTA will also examine the CCTV footage.
He also informed that prior to the ban imposed, the authorised sebayats on the chariots used to take their family members atop earlier. They used to take even their baby girls.
“Perhaps there is no resentment over sons being taken atop chariots as their sons not daughters and even female members of the authorised sebayats perform sebas (service) in the temple, and the matter has to be amicably sorted out in future,” the SJTA chief opined.
Need to be mentioned here that Shankaracharya’s reactions on the matter could not be availed despite several attempts by OMMCOM NEWS.