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Devotees back at Bhagabati temple

Bhubaneswar, Oct. 23: The 700-year-old Bhagabati temple at Banpur in Khurda district is bustling with devotees again as the week-long deadlock over issues regarding animal sacrifice was resolved by the administration last night.

The temple, which had remained locked for about a week, was opened last night after the consecration rituals, including yagnas, were performed by pandits from Puri’s Jagannath temple.

“Rituals resumed from today morning and hundreds of devotees thronged the temple to pay respect to goddess Bhagabati,” said Banpur block development minister Dilip Patnaik.

Earlier yesterday, a delegation of locals and temple priests met and held discussions with Puri Sankaracharya, Swami Nischalananda Swaraswati and vedic experts of Mukti Mandap Pandit Sabha, the body of scholars of Puri Jagannath temple on how to resolve the deadlock.

A group of pandits, led by the Rajguru of Puri Jagannath temple, sanitised the Bhagabati temple last evening. Priests of Bhagabati temple and a section of locals had alleged that the temple had been desecrated after a group of policemen entered the temple with shoes on.

The temple had been locked and the rituals were stopped since Mahastami following resentment over prohibition of animal sacrifice by the district administration due to a high court directive. Prohibitory orders (under section 144 Cr P C) were clamped in and around the temple following tension.

The priests and members of Maa Bhagabati Parampara Surakshya Manch, a body supporting the animal sacrifice, went on a hunger strike.

They demanded suspension or transfer of officials who entered the temple wearing shoes and misbehaved with them.

A delegation of locals and temple priests, led by local MLA, Ragunath Sahoo, had held discussion with law minister Bikram Keshari Arukh, who had ordered an inquiry by the revenue divisional commissioner (central division).

A decision was taken to open the temple and resume rituals following discussions with the law minister, Puri Sankaracharya and Vedic scholars of Puri Jagannath temple.

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