The bid to sell chariot parts of deities by the Sri Jagannath Temple administration on Wednesday evoked criticism with a section of priests and cultural organisations raising voice of protest.
The temple administration's effort was to generate revenue by selling parts of the three
chariots of Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra.
"We will sell attractive portions of chariots, like wheels, artifacts engraved on the chariot, handicrafts and side deities to devotees. It will not only generate revenue, but also popularize Jagannath culture outside," Temple's chief administrator Arabind Padhee said.
However, the administration's decision has been opposed by a section of priests who claim that the action was against the tradition of the 12th century shrine. Jaganath Sena, a Puri based cultural orgainsation strongly opposed the administration's efforts.
"We apprehend that the chariot parts would be misused by non-Hindus. I do not think it wise to use it for commercial purpose," said priest Daitapati Ramakrushna Dasmohapatra
Another priest Rabindra Pratihari also disapproved the idea of selling the chariot parts. "The parts of the chariots have no value. They should not be given a price," he said.
Meanwhile, the temple administration has constituted a sub-committee for price fixation of the chariot parts. The district collector of Puri and temple officials are part of the committee to fix base price of portions of the chariot.
"Devotees can contribute more than the base price as a token of donation to the temple," Padhee said.
As per tradition, the chariot wood is used as fuel in the shrine kitchen. Some portions are also given to carpenters as remmuneration.
The state government supplies at least 13,000 cubic feet wood worth over Rs. 65 lakh for construction of three chariots for the annual rath yatra. About 1,000 trees of different species are felled for making the chariots, forest department sources said.
The temple receives nearly 810 pieces of non-sal logs like asana, dhaura, phasi, mahi and simili logs from Nayagarh and Khurda forest divisions for chariot making.
The traditional carpenters construct 45 feet high Taladhwaja chariot for Balabhadra, 45.6 ft Nandighos chariot for Jagannath and 44.6 ft high chariot Devidalan for Subhadra.
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