BJP seeks ban on climbing chariots, touching deities during Rath Yatra
Bhubaneswar: Asking Odisha government to ban the practice of climbing chariots and touching the deities during Lord Jagannath`s Rath Yatra at Puri, BJP on Monday said the state has no right to reject the Shankaracharya`s decision regarding religious matters in the 12th century shrine.
The issue was raised by BJP member Basant Panda, while participating in the debate on the motion of thanks on the Governor`s address in the state Assembly.
"I do not understand why the state government is hesitant to accept the Shankaracharya`s decision on the chariot climbing issue. The government had earlier implemented the seer`s decisions on different occasions," Panda, who is also the BJP Legislature Party`s spokesman said.
Dubbing the rejection of Shankaracharya`s decision on the religious matter as an "insult" to four crore people of Odisha, Panda said "The state government has no right to take any decision relating to religious matter. It is the Shankaracharya who is the authority on religious matters."
Panda`s views were supported by Congress law makers.
"It is a sensitive matter. Once I had suggested Biju Patnaik not to climb the chariots during the Rath Yatra. Biju Babu did not climb the chariots on my request," recounted Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress.
Mishra said the chief administrator of the temple should find an amicable way to resolve the dispute.
Tara Prasad Bahinipati, another Congress MLA, said the an entire day is required to discuss the issue.
The Shankaracharya in his recommendation had said climbing chariots and touching the deities during Rath Yatra was "anti-religious" and had suggested the Sri Jagannath Temple Management Committee to ban the practice.
Puri`s Gajapati King Divyasingha Deb also supported the Shankaracharya`s views and said "It is `Maha Paap` (sin) to climb the chariots and touch the deities."
Meanwhile, the state government instead of putting a blanket ban on the practice, decided that the devotees would not be allowed to climb the chariots on three days - Rath Yatra, Bahuda (return car festival) and Suna Bhesa (golden attire of the Lord).
The state government, however, remained silent on the controversy on the issue.
"It is a sensitive matter which required wide consultation," state Law Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo said.
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