Berhampur, Sept 10 (LocalWire): Claiming their earnings have been affected due to the closure of temples, several priests and sevayats of different shrines in Ganjam district have demanded government relief.
All the temples in the district have been shut for the visitors since March 16 amid the outbreak of Covid-19.
“We used to maintain our families with the Dakshina (donation) of the devotees who visited the temple, before the outbreak of the pandemic,” said Tapan Rana, one of the sevayats of Tara Tarini temple, one the famous Shakti shrines in the state.
Due to the closure of the temple for the devotees, our daily income has almost stopped since March, he said.
Since there were no other options of earnings, several of our servitors have managed their families by borrowings, said Rana, who is the president of Sri Taratarini Archaka Sevayat Samiti. As many as 72 servitor families perform the rituals in the temple.
“We have submitted a memorandum to the chief minister Naveen Patnaik through the Ganjam collector, describing our plight due to the closure of the temple and restrictions in visits of the devotees and sought some government aid,” he said.
Rana said they however haven’t got any assistance from the government so far.
“Not only the servitors, but also the earnings of several other vendors who sell the puja articles near the temple have also been affected due to the lockdown,” said MM Patra, a local resident.
Almost all of these small-time vendors have shut their outlets these days, as the temple premises wore a deserted look due to the absence of visitors.
Before the pandemic period, over a hundred families depended on the temple for their earnings. Besides the priests, vendors, several poor brahmins also thronged the temple to get free meals (brahman bhojan) from the devotees.
Around 150 brahmins perform the shradha on the occasion of the ongoing fortnight-long Mahalaya, said Jagannath Choudhury, the chairman of the managing committee of the temple.
However, all these rituals and activities have been stopped since March after the imposition of lockdown, he added.