Bhubaneswar: Lord Jagannath’s coffers might have swelled in the wake of demonetization of higher currency notes. But the delicious Mahaprasad of the deities has virtually become off limits to many devotees thanks to ban on circulation of the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.
“Since the past three days, Mahaprasad of nearly Rs 5 lakh rupees remained unsold per day. Devotees are flashing the junked notes before us for the purchase, which we are unable to tender,” said Shyam Sundar Mohapatra, a shrine servitor.
Every day, Mahaprasad, consisting at least 15 varieties of vegetarian food, is cooked for nearly 10,000 devotees on a given day at the 12th century shrine. Temple sources said at least 100 servitors sell Mahaprasad of worth over Rs 10 lakh on the shrine campus every day. The Jagannath Temple’s kitchen is touted as the biggest shrine kitchen in the country.
“We expected brisk business in view of the ongoing holy Kartika month. Demand of Mahaprasad usually goes up during Kartika month as people do not consume non-vegetarian foods. But we sit with our fingers crossed due to the demonetization of higher currency notes and acute shortage of Rs 100 denomination in ATMs and banks. Our business has been adversely affected,” said Krushna Chandra Samantaray, secretary of Suar Mahasuar Nijog, a body of servitors, who cook Mahaprasad in the temple.
Servitors said they were either forced to feed the unsold Mahaprasad to stray bulls or bury the holy foods underground. “The temple administration should have arranged facilities for devotees to exchange the junked currency notes in the temple,” said Samantaray.
Temple officials said they are not authorized to exchange the higher currency notes. “Devotees, who have been observing Kartika Brat and provided with free accommodation by the district administration, are being fed free Mahaprasad. Around 1,000 devotees are getting the benefit every day,” said a temple official.
The shrine body witnessed a sharp rise in the collection of donations as pilgrims have been dropping the banned notes in the donation box in the temple for the past few days. While Rs 4,57,141 donation was collected from the offertory box on Friday, Rs 6,23,321 was collected on Saturday.