Mutts, commercialization and demolition


Puri: The self-proclaimed cultural protectionists and intellectuals are crying foul over the ongoing demolition drive around the world famous Jagannath temple in Puri.

They have launched a negative propaganda on social media platforms against the state government for razing unsafe and illegal structures within 75 meter from the perimeter of the revered shrine.

In the meantime, a section of the sadhus and spiritual leaders have joined the chorus in opposing the drive questioning the safety of the mutts in the pilgrim town.

Seemingly, the loudmouths haven’t never realized the unforeseen threats that the dangers the structures pose to life.

It is but natural that any such move will meet with stiff opposition. But what is the ground reality? The Emar Matha (Emar Mutt) to be specific and other mutts in general are an integral part of the Jagannath culture, but what have been done with these monasteries over the years is really appalling. The mutts, primarily meant to spread Jagannath culture, have lost their cultural relevance due to sheer commercialization, over the years.

The million dollar question here is: Does Jagannath culture allow using mutts to allow it for commercial purposes like shoe stands on mutts’ premises and shoe shops in the rented house of mutts? Does not it desecrate the sanctity of mutts?

It is quite evident that the mutts built for the promotion and propagation of Jagannath culture have gradually deviated from their objective and become commercial ventures. There have also been instances of how the valuable land and properties of mutts are being misused for business purposes.

Worth mentioning, the government aims to free the religious place of illegal encroachment and not to demolish the mutts so that the devotees will have better view of the structures and engage in discussions with the spiritual leaders residing in the monasteries.

Shockingly, the signages and billboards have taken over the mutts.

Surprisingly, there have been no audit of books in these mutts. Are the employees working in the mutts getting due remuneration and benefits?

The intervention by the administration in the affairs of the mutts’ affairs is a must as it is associated with the Jagannath Temple. The government has time and again said that the sanctity of the mutts will be preserved and better facilities will be provided once the cleanup work is completed. The presiding deity’s of the mutts and the traditions associated with them will be kept intact so that they will play an important role in the development of Puri into a World Heritage City.

Interestingly, the mutts had never organized any assembly of hundreds of Sadhus before. Now all of a sudden they are now coming to Puri to side with the protestors after ten days of the demolition drive. Who is instigating them!

With the situation snowballing into a major controversy, the administration should take preventive measures to protect the peace of the holy town.

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