Bhubaneswar: In a novel way of protest, opposition Congress leaders, workers and supporters on Thursday performed 'Sankirtan' in front of different Jagannath temples across Odisha demanding opening of all the four gates of the Lord's 12th century shrine in Puri.
The agitation named as 'Sankirtan Satyagraha' (mass chanting in praise of God accompanied by music) was organized in all the 314 blocks, urban local bodies across the state.
Apart from the four gates of the Puri Jagannath temple, they also demanded opening and inventory of Lord's Ratna Bhandar (treasury) of the temple. They alleged that the Ratna Bhandar was not opened for 45 years even as there is provision in the law to undertake inventory of valuables in the Lord's treasury.
The air was filled with 'Jai Jagannath' slogans as the Congress workers shouted at top of their voice in name of the Lord by beating cymbals and mrudangam. While a group of party workers performed Sankirtan near Shree Mandir in Puri, a similar show was also seen near Congress Bhawan in Bhubaneswar, the party's state headquarters here.
In Puri and several other places, the Sankirtan Satyagraha also witnessed participation of the Lord's devotees. The idols of the sibling deities - Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath, were also placed near the agitation site.
Earlier the party during its agitation on October 16 had given ultimatum to the state government to open four gates of the Puri temple by October 28 or the party would intensity its agitation.
"A large number of devotees, mostly elderly ones are standing on queues for hours to enter the Jagannath temple in Puri as only one gate is opened," said OPCC president Sarat Pattnayak.
He said after a lot of demand, the administration has now opened the western gate of the Puri temple for the local residents.
"Crores of Lord Jagannath devotees are pained over the government's decision to close three of the four gates of Puri temple. The Sankirtan is performed in order to invoke Lord Jagannath's blessings. Good sense should prevail upon the state government so that the temple gates are opened for smooth darshan of devotees," said the OPCC president.
OPCC in a statement said that though the party was planning a 'Sankirtan Satyagraha' near Unit-5 Jagannath Temple, it was denied permission by the local administration. "Therefore, we temporarily installed idols of trinity near Congress Bhavan and staged the agitation," said party MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati.
Meanwhile, an official of the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) said that all the four gates of the temple will be opened only after completion of the ongoing Puri Heritage Corridor Project.
The three other temple gates are closed for devotes because of the construction work being carried out for the corridor project.