Draft Heritage Bylaws: Bhubaneswar Lingaraj Temple Servitors Threaten Mass Protest

Bhubaneswar: The servitors of Lingaraj Temple here have threatened to sit on a mass protest on Friday if the notification of draft heritage bylaws framed by the National Monuments Authority (NMA) for two temples in Ekamra Khestra is not withdrawn in 24 hours.

The draft bylaws, defining various zones for their conservation and periphery development, for Ananta Basudev covers a section of the 11th-century shrine in its regulated zone.

“We will stage a mass protest at the Lingaraj Temple at 6 pm on Friday if the Centre fails to take a stand similar to that for Jagannath Temple in Puri,” Lingaraj Sena president Rajendra Samartha said on Thursday.

On February 8, the Centre withdrew the draft heritage bylaws for Jagannath Temple in Puri after it sparked a controversy in the state.

Samartha termed the bylaws as a ‘conspiracy’ to hurt sentiments of devotees of Lord Shiva as it would put a halt to the ongoing beautification projects in Ekamra Kshetra.

“We want the roads connecting the Lingaraj Temple to be widened ahead of the Mahashivratri. We want the safety of our shrines and ancient structures. The bylaws will affect the livelihoods of servitors as well as residents,” he added.

The servitors also took exception to NMA comparing the temples of Lord Shiva with museums and issuing a notification in this regard. “It has deeply hurt religious sentiments of Hindus especially the devotees of Mahadev,” they said.

Khurda Collector Sanat Kumar Mohanty, who is the Lingaraj Temple Trust Board Chairperson, has also written to the NMA urging to withdraw the controversial bylaws.

In the letter, the collector mentioned about habitations (Sahis) around the 11th-century temple and said that sevayats families, who have been rendering services to the Lord, are likely to be severely and adversely affected by this draft notification and should be consulted before any process to restrict their rights is undertaken by NMA.

Also Read: Lingaraj Temple Authority Spells Out Impact Of Draft Heritage Bylaws On Sevayats, Rituals

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