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Odisha: Dozens of holy earthen hearths in the kitchen of Jagannath Temple in Puri vandalized

According to various reports, the number of hearths or chulhas vandalised in Puri Jagannath temple ranges from 40 to over 100

In a shocking incident, as many as 40 earthen hearths in the kitchen of Shree Jagannath Temple of Puri in Odisha were vandalized by unknown miscreants. These hearths (Chulhas or ovens) are in regular use for making the raj bhoga offered to Lord Jagannath and his sibling deities. The number of vandalized Chulhas however differed in different reports. Saswat Panigrahi, the editor of Zee News Odisha, has tweeted that as many as 90 such Chulhas were vandalized. This incident was reported by the temple officials on Sunday 3rd April 2022.

On the other hand, India Today reported that over 100 chulhas were vandalised in the incident.

The district collector Samarth Verma visited the spot along with Superintendent of Police VK Singh. Samarth Verma said, “Around 40 Chulhas were vandalized in the Rosa Ghar. we have sought a report in this regard and strict action will be taken against the person responsible for the incident.”

He further said, “The CCTV footage is being examined to identify those involved in this incident. A joint inquiry by police and temple officials has been ordered. The incident will affect the devotees in getting the ‘Mahaprasad’ but things will be normalized in two days.”

Informing about the daily rituals, he said, “The temple administration prepares the offering for the Lord on ‘Kotha Chulhas’. Only one or two of these ‘Kotha Chulhas’ were amongst the ones vandalized. Therefore, the rituals of the temple were not affected.” However, an official said that there was a delay in serving the morning offerings by 30 minutes.

Shree Jagannatha Temple in Puri dates back to the 12th century. According to the records of rights, there are a total of 240 registered hearths in the kitchen out of which 40 are damaged. The ‘Mahaprasad’ is cooked only in the earthen pots. Around 400 cooks and 200 assistants are directly engaged in the process of preparing the ‘Mahaprasad’. devotees get this ‘Mahaprasad’ in Ananda Bazar.

Saswat Panigrahi tweeted, “This has happened for the first time in the history of Puri Srimandir. As many as 90 Chulhas – meant for preparing Mahaprasad – inside the divine kitchen were vandalized. Such a bizarre incident has raised a serious question mark on the security of Jagannath Temple.”

The temple officials informed that only the cooks are allowed to be inside the kitchen, therefore, it is suspected that some servitors may be involved in vandalizing these hearths on Saturday night following a dispute over completing traditional rituals.

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