Bhubaneswar: Odisha government should have gracefully accepted the advice of Puri Shankaracharya banning climbing of the chariots by devotees during Lord Jagannath`s rath yatra instead of confronting on the matter, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said on Saturday.
"Instead of taking a confrontation course towards Jagadguru Sankaracharaya on issue of devotees climbing the chariots and touching the deities, Odisha Government should have stuck to provisions of law and gracefully accepted the advice of the seer," Pradhan said in a statement.
Pradhan, who is Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Petroleum and Natural Gas, said had the Odisha Government gone by the rule book, an unnecessary controversy could have been avoided.
The Union Minister said Jagadguru Shankaracharya is the final advisor on the issue of rituals of the deities as per the statutorily recognised record of rights.
"While his opinion was accepted by the Managing Committee of the temple and endorsed by none less than Gajapati Maharaja Divya Singha Deb, Odisha Government had no valid ground to get into controversy and reverse the decision," Pradhan said.
Due to state Government`s unwanted interference, the Court had to get into matter while it was absolutely clear in the records of rights that the power of the State extends only to secular functions and not to religious rituals, he said.
Pradhan said the Sankaracharaya, Gajapati Maharaja and Temple Managing Committee need to be given absolute authority on religious matters and Odisha Government should only take care of law and order and logistic support.
The Shankacharya of Puri Swami Nischalananda Saraswati had sought complete ban on devotees climbing on chariots and touching the deities, but state government on June 11 decided a partial prohibition by limiting it to only for three days during the annual car festival.
Finally, Orissa High court while disposing of a PIL yesterday held that the seer`s opinion on the matter would prevail.