Bhubaneswar: The Shri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has placed a priest under suspension and served a show cause notice to another for allegedly helping a women devotee mount the chariot of Lord Jagannath before the ceremonial 'Pahandi' (procession) to Sri Gundicha Temple on Tuesday.
The priest identified as Artatrana Pratihari, a member of the Pratihari Nijog, the priests who generally look after discipline inside the temple, took a woman devotee onto the chariot against the SJTA's order.
The SJTA since last year had prevented devotees to climb the chariot. The devotees can offer their prayer to the Lord by standing on the ground near the chariots, the SJTA order said.
The SJTA also served notice to Jagannath Swain Mohapatra, the Badagrahi (body protector) of Lord Jagannath for allegedly not preventing the devotee to climb the chariot in accordance with the order.
"One Artatrana Pratihari is suspended and Jagannath Swain Mohapatra is served notice under provision of section 21 (b) of the Shri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954," said SJTA chief administrator Suresh Chandra Mohapatra.
Mohapatra said the SJTA took action on the basis of the CCTV footage fitted to keep a vigil on the chariots.
Explaining his stand, Jagannath Swain Mohapatra said "I am not supposed to stop anyone to mount the chariot. My duty is to protect the body of the Lord and not to police the chariot. What the police and SJTA were doing?," Mohapatra said.
Earlier, the SJTA had placed two Daitapati priests under suspension on charges of creating disturbance during the Brahma Paribartan rituals of Lord Jagannath on June 15-16.
Last year, while accepting the recommendation of Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, the Orissa High Court had ruled that no devotees should be allowed to climb the chariots and touch the deities during the annual Rath Yatra in Puri.