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Lord Jagannath is the most revered God of Odisha, an enduring sacred cultural symbol that binds the people together. Odias across the world have sentiments bound to the temple and its presiding deity.

However, in recent years, there have been a number of instances of gross negligence and dereliction of duties by stakeholders that have hurt sentiments of the devotees.

After a High Court order, on April 4 when an inspection team visited Mahaprabhu’s (as Lord Jagannath is colloquially known) Ratna Bhandaar (jewel chamber), it turned out that the keys to the Bhandaar were missing. The crores of devotees of Lord Jagannath have known that the chambers and sacred possessions of the deity, so much a part of our cultural fabric, are safe. But can we be sure of that anymore? How can we be certain that objects from the chambers have not been stolen already? The State government knew of the lost keys at least since April 4 but decided to keep mum about it. Instead, it has resorted to tactics of diverting attention of the public and keeping the issue under wraps. The State government has tried to shift the responsibility to Gajapati Dibyasingh Deb but Mr. Deb has clarified that the keys have been with the State administration since the 1960’s. The responsibility of the daily functioning and temple management lies solely with the State government.

Additionally, during Nabakalabara, in which the three deities assume a new body—there was a lot of mismanagement at the Brahma Padartha (Supreme Matter) ceremony held once after every 12-19 years where the Padarthas are taken out from the wooden idols and placed in new ones (New Body), hurting the sentiments of Odias and Lord Jagannath devotees worldwide. State government, instead of getting to the root cause of these kinds of gross mismanagement is only setting up commission after commission. Jagat Guru Shakaracharya has time and again tried to bring up the issue of negligence of the holy shrine and its associated institutions only to be ignored by the administration. What is the compulsion or the interest of the State government to resort to such dilatory methods?

Strangely, Justice Mahapatra Commission’s report was lost and nobody knows who was behind the disappearance of these documents. Nobody also knows the present status of the Justice P.K. Mohanty commission that apart from other things was mandated to trace Justice Mohapatra commission recommendations. All these developments point to State government’s unserious approach towards temple affairs.

Therefore, we request all to sign this online petition which lodges our strong protest to restore proper protection of the centuries-old temple held sacred by millions and to restore the safety and security of the premises and to ascertain the status of the costly jewels that were stored in Ratna Bhandaar.

It’s time for the devotees of Lord Jagannath, and the admirers of the encompassing Jagannath culture, across the globe to unite and express our concern and anguish and to create pressure on the Naveen Patnaik government to clarify who takes the responsibility for the Temple and make proper arrangements to stop the gross mismanagement in its administration. We also draw the attention of the President and Prime Minister of India and the Governor of Odisha to this state of affairs through this petition.