The Housing Woes Of Lord Jagannath


( Photo from the Internet for illustration only)

Everything about we Oriyas is connected to Lord Jagannath . The Lord is a highly humanized Deity. He brushes his teeth, takes bath, changes his clothes umpteen times, falls ill after  an extended bath on his birthday  that is celebrated as ‘Snana Yatra”, goes visiting his  Maasi/Aunt Queen Gundicha along with his siblings, loves jewellery, enjoys gourmet meals  ( 56 varieties of food ) . Well, you can say, He really lives it up in style!

We Oriyas have a very special bonding with Lord Jagannath where we believe that he is just one of us … someone in our gang. So much so that we take the liberty of lying in his name too! I keep telling non-Oriyas that they should be a little skeptical if an Oriya swears by the Lord! For you see, we believe that Lord Jagannath  will bail us out of ALL tricky situations, even if we have  been a trifle naughty. Yeah, He is that cool…our Jaga Kaliya, as we affectionately call him .

My charmingly laid back home state has been, of late, become witness to flurried activity. Hardly has the heat about  the origin of the ‘roshogolla’ and the alarmingly passionate debates (euphemism for insults) with our worthy Bengali neighbors cooled down, we are stuck with acute housing problems of our Lord Jaganath. There you go! Housing woes affect the Divine too!

Reportedly, the structural condition of Jagamohan, a sprawling prayer hall facing the sanctum sanctorum of the Jaganth temple is highly unsafe and might collapse anytime.

That spells disaster of epic proportions and thus too many ‘cooks’ are busy cooking a broth to save the situation (and themselves).   The chairman of a technical core committee set up by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for supervision of the conservation work at the temple resigned in a huff allegedly because the ASI rejected an estimation and repair plan of the Jagamohan hall, prepared by the core committee. The rather   poor upkeep of the magnificent temple  has become a  highly politicized  issue with  the ruling BJD and opposition Congress and BJP baying for the ASI’s blood. Apparently, the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister have exchanged letters. High level meetings and debates about the ‘right thing to do’ are on.

But delays due to such extraneous factors only will worsen the  already precarious situation. I am reminded  rather gingerly of this “How many twenty-second-century bureaucrats did it take to change a light panel?
We’ll have a sub-committee meeting and get back to you with an estimate.” ( Peter F. Hamilton ‘Great North Road’)

As an Oriya, a devout bhakt of Lord Jaganath and also an individual who since childhood has marveled at the magnificence of the architecture of the temple, thrilled to numerous legends/stories connected to the temple told by my grandfather, I also wait  very anxiously for everything to become alright once again.

Do I sound terrifyingly ‘religious’ or ‘parochial’?

Well, I would echo  Abraham Lincoln’s words “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” And that’s what loving Lord Jaganath has taught me. That’s what every God teaches us. Like John Lennon said ‘ I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha and all the rest said was right. It’s just that the translations have gone wrong.”

Meanwhile, I think   my highly human Lord Jaganath must also be a tad worried about his house repairs? Hopefully he would not have to call his chief architect/engineer the Lord Vishwakarma to bail him out? What with the poor mobile connectivity there….tsk tsk.

Last word: Jai Jaganath!



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