Two days after SC rap, Puri temple collects record Rs 10.5 lakh from Hundi

BHUBANESWAR: Two days after the asked the Administration to urge devotees to donate money directly to the temple authorities, instead of giving the cash to servitors, the shrine management on Sunday counted money worth a whopping Rs 10.5 lakh in cash in the offertory box (Hundi) inside the shrine. The apex court had asked the temple administration to prevent servitors from collecting offering or dakshina from devotees.

“We never expected that the Supreme Court’s directive would pay off so quickly. We received Rs 10,47,501 from the Hundi. The donation we received in Hundi is highest on a single day in last six to seven years,” a temple official told TOI. On a normal day, the temple administration receives donation between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 4 lakh in the Hundi, placed right in front of the sanctum sanctorum. On festive days, the Hundi collection reaches nearly Rs 6 lakh.

Apart from dropping money in Hundi, the devotees can also deposit cash at the temple office in front of Puri royal palace, temple’s branch office inside the shrine premises and the temple information centre at the main entrance. Pilgrims can also send donations online. “We receive maximum donations in Hundi. The money is counted everyday by the officials of a nationalised bank inside the temple amid CCTV surveillance.

On Saturday, the temple administration pasted circulars at different places in the temple, sensitising servitors about the apex court’s directive. “We appealed to servitors to refrain from taking donations from devotees. We also requested the pilgrims to pay donations direct to the temple administration. They may drop the money in Hundi or deposit with us,” the officer said.

The Supreme Court took serious note of the frequent mismanagement and harassment of devotees by servitors at Jagannath temple in Puri. The Supreme Court has asked Puri district judge Ambuja Mohan Das to give a report on factual aspects of difficulties faced by visitors, exploitative practices (if any), deficiencies in the temple management (if any) and suggestions to improve the overall functioning of the temple. The court also asked the temple administration to pay remuneration to servitors and ensure their better financial condition.

On Sunday, some servitors grumbled over the restrictions on collecting dakshina from devotees and said this would adversely affect their livelihood. “We may revolt if the government chokes our lone income avenue. We will not cooperate with the administration in conduct of the rituals,” Jayakrushna Panda, a servitor said.

In a related development, the Singhadwar police on Sunday arrested servitor Santosh Kar on charges of molesting a girl on the temple premises. The girl raised an alarm, leading to Kar‘s arrest. On May 20, three servitors allegedly assaulted a Thane-based IT professional and misbehaved with his wife for their refusal to pay dakshina.

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