Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram, who is known for his straightforwardness, minced no words to criticise the Sevayats or Pandas at Puri Jagannath Temple, who have brought disrepute to the state of Odisha because of their unruly behaviour.
Speaking at the Global Odias’ Conclave organised by ‘Aseema Odisha – Odisha Without Border’ at KIIT in Bhubaneswar, Oram revealed that he received negative feedback from people from other states, who visit Puri Jagannath Temple. They are reluctant to visit the holy place again because of the ill treatment they receive from Sevayats (Servitors) in Puri, he said.
“People in Odisha are proud of Puri Jagannath Temple, which has given a special place to the state on the global arena. But, the Sevayats (Pandas) are causing damage to this reputation. They must be reined in to ensure peace and smooth functioning of the temple and create sense of security among the tourists,” he said.
“I am not against the Sevayat or Panda culture. They are here to stay. We need them. But, for some of them, the entire fraternity as well as the state of Odisha, is getting a bad name. We must do something to restore the trust of tourists from across the state as well as the world. My comments may not go well with many people. But, this is the right platform where I should speak out and I am doing it,” said the Minister.
In the recent years, the sevayats have taken things for granted and created much tension inside the temple premises on various occasions. Even the government looks helpless because of their threats. For the first time in the history of Rath Yatra, the Puri Shankaracharya was snubbed because of them. They raised voice against the Shankaracharya after he sought to end some corrupt practice. Most of the people who visit Puri Jagannath Temple, always complain about the unruly behaviour and aggression of the sevayats.