A cold foggy morning welcomed the year 2015 in New Delhi. However, when this Correspondent visited the magnificent Jagannath Mandir and Orissa Arts and Cultural Centre, New Delhi ,situated at Tyagraj Nagar in the very heart of the national capital, there was no influence of the weather as in any detriment in ringing in the New Year with the blessings of the Almighty Lord Jagannath.
Braving the cold and gloomy weather, Odias from all parts of Delhi and the NCR region poured in at this oldest Jagannath Mandir in the NCR region to pray for the well being of their near and dear ones in the new year. They offered their Pujas and took prasad and bhog. It was good to see that there was no demarcation. People of all age as well as from different strata and position in society converged at the Mandir on the occasion of the New Year. They not only prayed but freely mingled and wished each other well . It all looked like a big celebration with the sanction and blessings of the Lord. Interestingly, there were not only Odias but also people from other communities as Lord Jagannath is considered very highly for his divine powers and blessings to one and all who pray him from heart.
In 1946, a few Odia members of the Central Assembly together with Odia employees of the Central Government offices met and decided to form an Association of the Odias in Delhi with the primary objective of promoting the rich culture and heritage of Odisha . An Association named ‘Utkal Association’ was formed in April 1946. The activities of the Association gained momentum and it was named as ‘The Odia Samaj’.
The official Odisha Association was formed in 1952 and was named as ‘The Orissa Club’, Delhi. Shri Baikunth Das, a sanyasi who was working in Bharat Cotton Mill, Karampura, Delhi, on request by the Association, located the site for the Jagannath Temple in 1968. Late Shri Jagannath Rao, the then Union Minister of Works & Housing ,advised to build the temple at this site in Tyagraj Nagar. The Orissa Club was dissolved and by consent of the General body, the Association took the name of Shri Jagannath Mandir and Orissa Arts & Culture Centre, Delhi (Regd.). With the blessings and good wishes of the Odia residents of Delhi, the foundation stone of the temple was on laid on 15th of January, 1968 . Construction of the temple was started on 5th February 1968 and small idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabadra, Maa Subhadra and Sudarsan were placed inside it.
In 1982, the Association approached Late Shri Braj Mohan Mohanty, the then Union State Minister (Works, Housing & Land) for regularization of land allotment. To augment funds, in 1986, a Dharmashala was built with about 18 rooms to accommodate temporary visitors from Odisha. After a few years, then Ex Chief Justice of India, Shri R.N. Mishra laid the foundation stone of the new structure of the temple on January 23, 1991. It took for Odia masons from Nayagarh to finish the construction of the temple, which was finally inaugurated by Puri Gajapati on January 28, 1999.
Today the temple has not only become the religious but also the main cultural nerve centre of all Odias in the NCR region. Free health care and health awareness camps are being regularly organised by the Mandir. It provides dance , art and music classes as also library and conference halls to promote the rich cultural, artistic and literary heritage of Odisha.