Mahaprasad of Lord Jagannath will undergo quality check before being sold to devotees as the Puri temple administration has decided to use the services of a food inspector for the task, a first of its kind initiative in the country.
“I have written to the health department to depute a food inspector in the Jagannath temple for daily quality check of the Mahaprasad. We have been receiving complaints from many devotees about substandard Mahaprasad sold by some servitors on the temple premises. The food inspector will also check the quality of tanka torani (water mixed to cooked rice) sold to devotees,” chief administrator Suresh Mohapatra said.
Every day, Mahaprasad, consisting of at least 15 varieties of vegetarian food, is cooked for nearly 20,000 devotees at the 12th century shrine. The temple’s kitchen is touted as the biggest shrine kitchen in the country. Temple sources said at least 100 servitors belonging to Suar Nijog (a type of priests) sell Mahaprasad worth over Rs 10 lakh on the shrine campus every day.
Devotees said the appointment of a food inspector will improve the quality of the holy food. “I cannot say about complaints from devotees. But we never sell stale Mahaprasad. We even receive bulk orders for marriage parties and other religious functions from across the state,” said Krushna Chandra Samantaray, secretary of Suar Mahasuar Nijog, the body of servitors, who prepare Mahaprasad in the temple. “We either feed the poor the unsold Mahaprasad or bury the holy food,” Samantaray said.
The servitors urged the temple administration to immediately renovate the Ananda Bazaar, where Mahaprasad is sold to devotees inside the temple. Since long, the temple body has been saying to modernise the Ananda Bazaar. But the dining place looks unhygienic, said Shyamsundar Mohapatra, another servitor.