Patnaik government faces opposition's fury
Congress has constituted a 7 member board to examine the events leading to Nabakalebara disorganisation, particularly the recent Brahma Paribartan (soul transfer) embarassment in Jagannath temple, Puri. The team headed by leader of opposition in Odisha assembly-Narasingha Mishra came hard on CM Naveen Patnaik. The prime issue at hand was the delay in the Brahma Paribartan ritual, which offended thousands of devotees.
The Nabakalebara is a festivity of the age-old ritual associated with Jagannath Temple when the idol deities of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Sudarshan are replaced by brand-new idols. The festival starts with Banjaga Yatra (29 March) and culminates in the Rathayatra followed Sunabesa. Brahma Parivartan (17 June) or changeover of the deities from old to new idols is its most important ritual.
The last Nabakalebara festival was held in 1996 and was considered to be the most well-managed Nabakalebara of all time. CM Janaki Ballav Patnaik had personally supervised the celebrations at that time.
All traditions were trespassed at Puri Jagannath Temple as Daitapatis (priests) refused to give in to traditions, hurting countless devotees. The "Brahma Sthapana" ceremony that otherwise only 4 Badagrahis are authorized to see, was prevailed upon by unauthorised Daitapatis. The fight resulted in 'Ghata Parivartan' and the burial of deities (Patali) being held in the afternoon instead of night, violating all rules and traditions.
While the temple authorities sought a report from the Daitapati Niyog, the opposition wasted no time in levying the blame for the fiasco on the Odisha government. CM Naveen Patnaik faced the angst for not having monitored the most important ritual of the Nabakalebara festival. The Biji Janata Dal rubbished the statements as "baseless" and as the opposition's attempt to politicise a religious issue.
The Congress party carried on a 12 hour bandh to demonstrate against the incapacity of the Naveen Patnaik government to assure an unobstructive "conduct of rituals" related with the Nabakalebara celebrations. The Congress bandh against BJD found support from all other political parties in Odisha. Slogans were raised against the CM, temple administrator Suresh Mahapatra and law minister Arun Sahu.
Giving in to the mounting distress over the Brahma Paribartan delay (which was held-up by 12 hours), the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration dismissed 2 attendants of Daitapati Nijog (priests' association) namely Jay Krushna Dasmahapatra and his father Kasinath Dasmahapatra. The accused were suspended under section 21-B of Jagannath Temple Act and would not be allowed to give their services till the trial reaches completion.
After his suspension, Daitapati Kasinath Dasmahapatra admitted that he had "seen and touched the holy Brahma of the deities" along with other Daitapatis, further flaring the Nabakalebara controversy.