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Powerless Nepal King can still offer prayers at Puri temple

Source: PTI
May 07, 2008 12:34 IST
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Sri Jagannath Temple at Puri will continue to maintain its tradition of allowing the Nepal King to perform special 'puja' inside the sanctum sanctorum in the 12th century shrine even after the phasing out of the 239-year-old monarchy in the Himalayan kingdom.

"We will like to maintain age-old tradition in the temple. It does not matter if the monarchy in Nepal exists or not," chief administrator of the Sri Jagannath Temple Suresh Chandra Mohapatra said.

Affirming that King Gyanendra would be conferred the same status as given to his forefathers in the temple, Mohapatra said the royal family of Nepal had special rights in the centuries-old shrine.

According to tradition, the royal family members of Nepal get special attention whenever they visit the temple and the King and the Queen are allowed to offer puja to the deities -- Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra -- on the 'Ratna bedi' (the sacred altar) itself.

The temple's record of rights, inscribed several hundreds years ago, clearly stipulated how to treat the King of Nepal as he enjoys the right of a sevak (servant) of the Lord.

Besides, the Nepal royal family also has special priests to assist them in performing puja like the Gajapati Maharaja of Puri.

During the visit of the Nepal king no one besides a few select priests are allowed inside.

"The entire temple is vacated as per tradition so that the King and his family members can have 'darshan' of the deities peacefully," said Bhaskar Mishra, a researcher of the Jagannath cult.
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