//Only Priests (Brahmins) are welcomed at Jagannath temple : Orissa High Court

Only Priests (Brahmins) are welcomed at Jagannath temple : Orissa High Court

Orissa Dalits hope to enter Jagannath temple

P S Thakur, Prabhat Parida, NDTV.COm

Saturday, November 25, 2006 (Keredagarh):

Lord Jagannath may be called the God of the downtrodden but not everyone has access to him. And certainly not, if you are a Dalit.

The upper castes have never allowed Dalits to enter the temple at Keredagarh in Kendrapara district of Orissa, since it was built some 250 years ago.

The Dalits have to be content peeping through the nine holes in the compound wall of the temple.

NGO support

But now, with support from various state-level organisations, Dalits have decided to enter the temple on Sunday.

"We want to reiterate that it's our constitutional right to enter the temple like others and pray. We want to do it in a peaceful way. If anyone tries to prevent us, it's up to the administration to deal with them," said Rajkishore Muduli, Dalit Leader, Keredagarh.

With local groups politicising the issue, things have become complicated. A pro-Dalit body plans to hold a rally of around 20,000 people on Sunday.

But upper caste leaders from outside who have been camping in the village say they will not allow the Dalits to enter the temple.

"We are opposed to their entry. We want caste-based discrimination to go from our constitution, polity and education. Only then we will allow them entry. We have decided to block all routes and even sleep on the roads to ensure the rally doesn't enter the village," said Seshdev Nanda, Leader, Uchcha Jaati Vikash Parishad.

Security measures

The district administration says things won't go out of hand. It has made heavy security arrangements in the village.

"We shall try for an amicable settlement between both groups. But at the same time we are also taking steps to ensure law and order is not breached on November 26," said Satrughan Parida, SP, Kendrapara.

The controversy over denying Dalits the right to enter the temple has been on for the past two years.

The administration did nothing last year when upper caste people penalised and humiliated four Dalit girls for entering the temple.


Court bans entry into Orissa temple

Nov 25, 2006 –

Dr. Priya Saxena,RXPGNEWS.COM

Dalits in Orissa are not allowed to enter and worship in many Hindu temples by the upper castes.

By RxPG News Service, Bhubaneswar, Nov 25 – Security was beefed up Saturday at an Orissa temple after a court banned the entry of devotees following a public suit seeking protection for Dalits who plan to enter the shrine defying an ages-old ban.

Dalits are barred from getting into the 18th century Jagannath temple at Keradagarh village in the coastal district of Kendrapada, 90 km from here, by Hindu upper castes.

An advocate, Akhya Kumar Mallik, had filed a public interest petition in the Orissa High Court in the first week of November seeking protection for Dalits when they enter the temple Sunday.

The court served show cause notices to the affected parties, including the district administration.

In view of the tension in the village, deputy district chief Raghunath Padhy filed a petition in the high court seeking that status quo be maintained in the temple.

In response, the division bench of the high court, comprising Justice I.M. Quddusi and Justice N. Prusty, Friday banned the entry of people into the temple, barring the priests and the staff.

'Nobody will be allowed inside the temple except for the priests and other staff until the disposal of the petition,' the judges said. However, the judges said the court was open to hear any party affected by its interim order.

The district administration beefed up security in the area in view of the court order, a district official told IANS.

Dalits and upper castes in Keradagarh village have been at loggerheads over the temple for two years. However, trouble erupted two weeks ago when the Ambedkar-Lohia Vichar Manch rights group announced that Dalits would forcibly enter the temple Nov 19. It later rescheduled the date to Nov 26.

In November 2004, villagers beat up four Dalit women for entering the temple. Dalits have tried to enter the temple several times but have always been prevented by the upper castes. The village, with a population of about 1,400, has 400 Dalits.

Dalits in Orissa are not allowed to enter and worship in many Hindu temples by the upper castes.

In Chauriberhampur village, on the outskirts of Kendrapada town, Dalits built their own Shiva temple in April after being denied entry into the local temple. They appointed a Brahmin as priest at their temple and allow people from upper castes to enter and worship.

HC bars entry to all but priests in Jagannath Temple

NewIndPress.COM, Saturday November 25 2006

CUTTACK: In a significant order, the Orissa High Court on Friday directed that no public would be allowed to enter into the Jagannath Temple of Keredagada in Kendrapara district barring the priests and sevayats.

The 300 year-old temple is in the thick of controversy after dalits were allegedly denied entry by members of the upper caste. A division bench of High Court comprising Justice IM Quddushi and Justice N Prusty passed the prohibitory order in response to a writ petition filed by one Akhaya Mallik.

Mallik, in his petition, had sought an appropriate direction to the State Government for providing protection to him and others who have planned to enter into the temple on November 26.

The dalits, under the banner of Ambedkar Lohia Bichar Manch, had planned to enter into the temple on Sunday. This had raised apprehensions of law and order situation in the area.