A first in 400 years! Odisha temple allows men inside temple premises, touch deities

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New Delhi | Published: April 23, 2018 4:38:07 PM

In a break from age-old tradition, men were finally allowed to touch five idols of Panchubarahi temple in Odisha for the first time in close to 400 years.

panchubarahi temple, odisha temple, ma panchubarahi temple, odisha panchubarahi temple, gender discrimination, odish temple breaks traditionIdols are said to weigh 1.5 tonnes each and are made of black stones. (ANI)

In a break from age-old tradition, men were finally allowed to touch five idols of Panchubarahi temple in Odisha for the first time in close to 400 years. Before this only woman were permitted to touch the idols and men were not even allowed to enter the temple premises. On April 20, the women priests of the temple allowed as many as five men to enter the premises and touch idols in order to relocate them to a different place inside the temple over fears that rising sea levels may affect the Satabhaya village.

The temple also has a tradition of permitting five Dalit women priests to take care of it. Daily pujas and other preparations at the temple are taken care of by married Dalit women from the village. Since last 400 years, there has been no deviation from this tradition. The major reason behind moving out f the tradition is the rise sea levels of the Bay of Bengal. As shifting could not be done by the women priests, the help from men was taken.

These idols are said to weigh 1.5 tonnes each and are made of black stones. From previous locations, these idols have been shifted 12 km inland. As per villagers, women priests performed rituals to purify five idols. It is a common belief among locals, that deities save them from natural disasters.

The Odisha State Disaster Management Authority along with the World Bank has set up a project so as to relocate the residents of the disappearing villages. Under the project, new houses will be provided to the people. According to some reports, Satabhaya village is being engulfed by the sea with each passing day. Since 1930, the area has also been reduced from 350 sq km to 140 sq km.

Meanwhile, earlier in March, five persons from the Brahmin community were booked for allegedly preventing a Dalit woman from praying at a temple. They also allegedly hurled casteist remarks at her in Nar Khurd village of Kanpur Dehat district.

The woman had alleged that the incident took place when she went to attend a religious discourse in a temple. “Last Thursday, I went to the temple with a thali containing flowers and other puja items. Following instructions from the priest, everyone kept their thalis at a corner on the temple campus. When one’s turn was coming, the person picked up his thalis and entered the temple,” she was quoted as saying by Indian Express.

“When my turn was about to come, some persons picked up my thali and started shouting… I took my thali from them but they started making casteist remarks against me. One of them snatched the thali from my hand and threw it on the ground. I felt humiliated and returned home,” she further told the paper.

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