As the country observed the world disabled day, the authoritries of the Jagannath Temple in Puri today decided to open the doors of the famous shrine to physically challenged persons in wheelchairs. The old and the disabled are at present allowed to be lifted into the temple as priests were opposed to wheelchairs.
There was no written rule on allowing or disallowing wheelchairs in the 12th century temple, temple priest Soumendra Mudali said. "There is also no tradition of wheelchairs in the temple premises. The Lord is lifted up by priests while emerging from the temple for the annual car festival," he said.
Secretary of the Sri Jagannath Sevak Kalyan Parishad Ipsit Pratihary said "we will not oppose entry of disabled persons into the temple. The decision of allowing wheelchairs inside the temple premises will be taken later though discussions".
A three-member delegation of priests comprising Pratihari, Mudali and Hajuri Ramnarayan Khunita met physically-challenged people and assured them that they would allowed entry into the temple in wheelchairs. "If the state administration llows the disabled in wheelchairs, it will be a new tradition unheard of in the temple", Mudali added.