Bhubaneswar: Puri Sankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati Saturday criticised the Odisha government for its alleged interference in religious matters.
Accusing the government of mishandling sensitive issues relating to annual Ratha Yatra - chariot festival - of Lord Jagannath at Puri, 56 km from here, Saraswati said the temple administration has become a machine in the hand of selected anti-socials.
"Who (the administration) cannot provide justice to Lord Jagannath how can it provide justice to me. I want justice," Sankaracharya said while expressing his displeasure over the decision of the temple administration which, in a letter, has asked him to visit chariots alone.
Every year, Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are taken out of the 12th century Jagannath temple, their adobe in chariots to the nearby Gundicha temple in Puri. This year the festival is being held Sunday.
Puri Sankaracharya climbs the chariots along with his disciples and offer prayers as a part of customary practice.
Saraswati said the temple administration has informed him that nobody can accompany him to the chariot. Strongly protesting the decision, the seer said he would not perform the customary rituals on the chariots this year.
An official of the temple administration said the letter was sent to the seer in accordance with the directives of the Odisha High Court, while the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said the decision was unwarranted.
"The government must lift the restriction. If the Sankaracharya does not perform the customary rituals on the chariots, it will create a very bad precedent," state BJP leader Biswabhusan Harichandan said.