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Youth Commits 'Sacrilege' at Jagannath, Climbs 65 Metres To Temple Top And Removes Holy Flag

According to police, Hatia Mohanta is a mentally unstable man who hails from the coastal district of Bhadrak. Police released him a few hours after detention and interrogation.

Anand ST Das | News18

Updated:April 20, 2019, 9:17 PM IST
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Youth Commits 'Sacrilege' at Jagannath, Climbs 65 Metres To Temple Top And Removes Holy Flag
The ‘bana’ (holy flag) atop the Puri Jagannath shrine in Odisha (News18)
Puri: On Saturday, millions of Odias were shocked to learn that a youth climbed atop the world-famous temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri and removed the ‘bana’ (holy flag) in an unprecedented incident that is considered sacrilegious.

A youth named Hatia Mohanta, aged about 30, was seen climbing atop the main temple of the 10th-century shrine in the morning. According to witnesses, including devotees and functionaries of the temple present on the premises, Mohanta swiftly climbed up the 214-feet-high (65 metres) temple “like a man possessed” without being distracted by the chorus of voices urging him to refrain from the potentially risky activity.

“But the man reached the top of the temple and removed the ‘bana’ (holy flag). He then tied in its place his used gamchha (long orange towel) and came down with the bana. This is certainly sacrilege. We will hold a marjana (purification ritual) as per the norms soon,” said Sharada Mohanty, a senior sevayat (temple servitor), to News18.

Mohanty, who is also the president of Chunura Niyoga, a body of special servitors who tie the ‘bana’ atop the temple daily in accordance with the norms, expressed displeasure at the “sacrilegious incident” and also a string of thefts that occurred on the temple premises in recent weeks.

According to police, Hatia Mohanta is a mentally unstable man who hails from the coastal district of Bhadrak. He speaks Odia, the language spoken in Odisha. Police released him a few hours after detention and interrogation.

“This man was seen by many roaming on the temple premises aimlessly for nearly the last three days. His speech was incoherent and he apparently had no specific motive behind climbing atop the temple to remove the holy flag. Further investigations are being conducted in this regard,” said Shravana Maharana, the SHO of Singhadwara police station in Puri.

At least three incidents of theft on the temple premises in recent weeks have put question marks on the security arrangements. A few small idols and some cash were stolen from the Ramachandra temple by unidentified people who committed the crime by cutting the metal grills earlier this month. In a similar incident last week, some cash was stolen from the Suara Niyoga premises at the temple. A cash box of the puja pandas (priests) was allegedly stolen from under the temple’s jagamohana in March.
(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
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