Temple relents, bar on Dalit entry ends

Senior officials brought temporary truce between the upper castes and Dalits over their entry to the Jagannath temple, reports Himansu S Sahoo.

india Updated: Dec 18, 2006 03:43 IST

The 300-year-old Jagannath Temple in Keradagada opened its door to devotees — after three days of "ceasework".

Senior officials of the Orissa government on Sunday managed to bring about a temporary truce between the upper castes and the Dalits over their entry to the Jagannath temple at Keradagada in Kendrapara district.

The temple clamped shutters on Thursday after a group of Dalits entered it to offer prayer. Scion of the erstwhile ruling family, Rabindra Narayan Bhanjadeo of the Kanika estate in Orissa's Kendrapara district, appealed to the local upper caste residents and priests to allow the temple to function. The 3,000-odd upper caste villagers, who were on a hunger strike since Saturday, called it off.

Central Range divisional commissioner Suresh Mohapatra, the chief administrative officer of Puri Jagannath temple and the central range DIG, convened a meeting of the feuding chieftains and prevailed upon the upper caste leaders to respect the high court order.

Mohapatra told

Hindustan Times:

“It was decided at the meeting that the Dalits would not be barred from entering the Jagannath temple. But both sides in subsequent talks will decide the exact point inside the temple where devotees will be allowed to have the


of the Lord. The decisions will be equally applicable to both sides”.

Mohapatra said he and the DIG would meet the leaders from both the sides again after a fortnight to implement the decision on how the devotees will pray inside the temple.

There was talk of separate entrance for Dalits, but Mohapatra said there would not be any discrimination in entry. The administration claimed that the row had been resolved for the time being.

Despite the presence of policemen, no Dalits were seen offering prayers at the temple on Sunday, but upper caste residents from Keradagada and nearby villages flocked to the premises for “kirtans”.

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First Published: Dec 18, 2006 03:43 IST