Orissa: Villagers coronate collector as 'king'

Kendrapara: Keeping the age-old tradition alive, the head of the district administration assumed the title of a 'king' for a day in a village in Jagatsinghpur district.

The crowned district collector, on Tuesday, discharged duties of a king in accordance with tenets of kingship, a practice in vogue in Sidhala village under Madhupur grampanchayat.

Even as the unique practice arouses curiosity among outsiders, the 'subjects' -- guided by Jagannath culture and heritage -- are reaping the benefits by religiously holding on to it.

Enthroning the district collector as the king and caretaker of Baldevjew, the presiding deity of the village, the locals have succeeded in developing the village.

"Paying respect to customary practice, I sat on the throne and wore the crown. It was a thrilling experience," said Collector Narayan Chandra Jena who was 'coronated' as the 'king' with typical regal touch and flavour.

"Every year, a coronation ceremony is held and the collector graces the occasion to sit on the throne. For us he is the king of Sidhala. He rules us and looks after the development. He is also duty bound to take care of the presiding deity, Baldevjew," a local said.

"We follow the Jagannath culture. Earlier, the local zamindar wore the crown and headed the Baldevjew shrine. With his death, dispute arose as to who will wear the crown. After much debate, it was unanimously decided in 1994 that the collector would be made the 'king'. Request was made to the then collector who consented. Since then, the practice is going on," secretary of Baldevjew temple management committee, Sura Prasad Nayak said.