In the run-up to the proposed visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to Puri on April 25, Jagannath temple priests are vying with each other for a chance to escort the highest dignitary of the country to the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine.
“Two separate sets of servitors have claimed to be the traditional priests of his family. There is Madhusudan Pujapanda and his brothers on the one hand, and Manmohan Gochhikar and his brother on the other. There is a third servitor who has shown me some photographic evidence to substantiate his claims. We will wait for specific instructions from the Presidentâ€™s secretariat in this regard. If we donâ€™t get any communiquÃ©, we will give a nod to all the three sets of servitors to ensure a smooth puja,” chief administrator of Jagannath temple said.
President’s scheduled time of visit is from 1pm to 1.45pm. It is a full moon day (purnima) and certain rituals have to be completed within a fixed time. Administration is co-ordinating with the servitors concerned so that rituals are performed on time. There will be restrictions on the entry of common people to the temple because of security reasons.
A white umbrella is given to VVIPs as per protocol. However, the Jagannath temple has certain traditional restrictions. So administration will provide a palm leaf umbrella to him till the Singha Dwaar (main gate of the temple) and the 22 steps, if he so desires. The pathway to the sanctum sanctorum and exit points has also been painted with lime so that it doesnâ€™t get too hot.
Meanwhile, the Puri district administration is leaving no stone unturned to give the beach town a new look ahead of the President’s visit. Encroachment around the temple has been removed, while the Raj Bhawan, where Mukherjee is slated to take rest after visiting the temple in the afternoon, is being given fresh coats of paint.