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Even gods not spared, so priests swim

Flood in Orissa has spared no one. If a common man has been badly affected, so have been the men closer to the Gods — temple priests. Priests of the temples, especially the ones situated near riverbanks, are having a tough time, reports Soumyajit Pattnaik.

india Updated: Sep 29, 2007 00:42 IST
Soumyajit Pattnaik

Flood in Orissa has spared no one. If a common man has been badly affected, so have been the men closer to the Gods — temple priests. Priests of the temples, especially the ones situated near riverbanks, are having a tough time.

According to popular belief, non-observance of rituals even for a single day can invite more troubles for the local people and hence the priests do not hesitate to swim to reach their respective temples in flooded areas to offer prayers and complete the daily rituals.

Gokarneswara is one such temple on the banks of Brahmani river in Jajpur district. The temple is surrounded by floodwater, however, it has not deterred priest Bina Panda to reach the temple. He simply swims his way to the temple. “In our district, several priests have to swim their way to the temple to observe the rituals. Besides, the Gokarneswara temple, priests of Sidheswar, Saptamatruka and Budha Ganesh temples have to swim through the floodwater to reach the temples to carry out the rituals daily," said Amulya Pati, a journalist based in Jajpur.

Sanjay Khuntia, a resident of Gopalpur Gram Panchayat in the district told HT: "Floodwaters have entered the Golakeswara temple. Besides, the Mata Matha in Bharatpur and Languli Matha have also been flooded. Here the priests have no other option but to swim to reach the temples." It is difficult for ordinary devotees to offer prayers in the temples in the flooded areas, as the rising waters have entered the temple premises.

According to Revenue Minister Manmohan Samal, 40 lakh people in 56 Blocks of Bhadrak, Balasore, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Kandhamal and Mayurbhanj districts have been affected by the floods. Eight lakh people in Balasore district are still marooned. Officially, the death toll in the current flood has already touched 39. The meteorological office has again issued warning about the formation of another low-pressure area in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast.