SJTA Urges NMA To Withdraw Draft Heritage Bylaws For Puri Jagannath Temple

Bhubaneswar: The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Sunday urged the National Monuments Authority (NMA) for the immediate withdrawal of the proposed heritage bylaws for Puri Jagannath Temple.

In a letter to NMA, the SJTA chief Krishan Kumar said, Shree Jagannath, is the “Aradhya Devata” of Odias & millions of Hindus across India & the world. He is worshipped as Brahmadaru at his Mula peetha at Puri. The divinity & worship of Shree Jagannath, as the “Lord of Universe” is as timeless and as infinite as the cosmos itself.

The SJTA has claimed that Puri Srimandir and all the properties belong to Shree Jagannath in the land records stand recorded in the name of Shree Jagannath Mahaprabhu. To manage the temple, affairs of sevaks and properties of the Lord, Shree Jagannath Temple Management Committee (SJTMC) has been constituted as a statutory body under ‘Shree Jagannath Temple Act, 1955 (Assented to by the President on October 15, 1955).

SJTMC entered into an agreement with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on August 22, 1979 for the conservation of the ancient built structures.

This agreement restricts & codifies duties and responsibilities of ASI vis-à-vis Sri Mandir. The bare reading of the agreement indicates that importance of Shree Jagannath temple as one of the Dhams for Hindus all over the world was given due consideration when management committee agreed to involve ASI in certain conservation works of ancient built structures,” the SJTA letter read.

The SJTA has stated that large number of inhabitants (Sahis) which are more than a millennium old also exists around the temple. These habitations are of mainly sevayat families, who have been rendering service to the Lords since time immemorial.

“As the Sevayats are likely to be severely and adversely affected by any intervention of the authorities like this draft notification, they must be consulted before any process to restrict their rights is undertaken by National Monuments Authority (NMA). This is also very important as any adverse impact on Sevayats have a direct bearing on continuity of Niti-Kanti (rituals) of Lord Shree Jagannath,” wrote the SJTA chief.

It is also important to note that everyday very large number of Hindu devotees from across India visit PUri for darshan of Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha, It is a statutory duty & responsibility of SJTMC to make arrangements for amenities & facilities for them. The number of pilgrims & devotees cross more than 1 lakh, especially on holidays & weekends.

Recently, the State government has acquired land and properties for strengthening safety and security of the centuries-old shrine for the project of Shree Jagannath Heritage Corridor (SJHC). These properties have been acquired by the State government through negotiations and most of the people have come forward to contribute their lands and properties for the project.Any regulation which has the potential to restrict development of facilities and amenities on lands voluntarily contributed by devotees of the Lord will hurt their sentiments,” the letter by the temple administration noted.

“To protect the interest of the Lords, sevaks and devotees at large, I request you to immediately withdraw the draft notification under reference.

The SJTA chief further said if National Monuments Authority (NMA) is still of the considered view that any further regulatory framework of any nature is required to protect and further the cause of ‘Mula Peetha’ of Shree Jagannath at Puri, then a detailed consultation and discussion with the members of Shree Jagannath Temple Management Committee (SJTMC) should be made before any such fresh attempt.

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