43 earthen stoves in Puri’s Jagannath temple kitchen found vandalised
The temple administrator said that they are not sure who did it, but added that the servitors who are responsible would face disciplinary action.
BHUBANESWAR: More than 40 wood-fired stoves called chullahs in the kitchen of 12th century Jagannath temple in Puri were found vandalised on Sunday morning, officials said.
The incident has triggered massive resentment among thousands of devotees and temple servitors.
Officials said when the doors of the ‘Roshaghara’ or the temple kitchen were opened on Sunday morning for cooking of elaborate divine food called Mahaprasad and other delicacies, they found at least 43 of the 240 stoves broken, fully or partially.
“We are not sure who did it, but the servitors who are responsible would face disciplinary action,” said temple administrator(development) Ajay Jena.
Temple servitors who are engaged in cooking the divine food every day, said the vandalism might have happened after 11.10pm on Saturday evening when Badasinghara bhog of the temple was prepared. “The kitchen is then locked up and Jagannath temple police man the entrance. There are also CCTV cameras around. The stoves were possibly vandalised by 7-8 people using crowbars,” said a temple servitor who is among the 500-odd persons engaged in cooking.
Officials said at least 6-8 servitors who are engaged in the cooking rituals were probably involved as no other temple official can enter the kitchen. “An investigation would reveal the truth. But we suspect the stoves were vandalised late Saturday night at around 1am. However, the stoves were repaired and the cooking has started for today’s Mahaprasad,” said a temple official.
The Roshaghara or the kitchen of the Jagannath temple in Puri is the largest and the biggest kitchen in any shrine of the country. At the temple kitchen, Mahaprasad or divine food is cooked on such a big scale that it can always feed 1 lakh devotees daily. On festival days, there will be more devotees to be fed. It is available to the devotees only after the main prayer to the main deities.
The wood-burning clay stoves are about 3.5 feet high on which earthen unglazed pots called kudias are kept for cooking. Each stove can accommodate 9 earthen pots at a time. At the base of the stove, triangle -shaped structures are built and firewood is placed. Food stored in the earthen pots stays reasonably hot for up to four or five hours. Only Brahmins cook food. Once the food meant for offering to Lord Jagannath is ready, it is again offered to Goddess Bimala in the temple. Only after the Prasad is offered to the Goddess, it becomes “Mahaprasada”.
For cooking rice, there are 175 stoves, for Dal and curry 45 stoves and for preparing cakes and other dry Mahaprasad 20 stoves are used. The kitchen starts at 9am so that Mahaprasad can be prepared by 11.30am for devotees. Usually Potato, tomato, drumsticks, ladies finger, onion, garlic, green chillies, red chillies, cauli flower, cabbage, bean, bitter gourd and capsicum is strictly prohibited for use in the kitchen while preparing this Mahaprasad.