Odisha Cabinet approves outlays for dedication of new parikrama at Jagannath temple in Puri

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Religious outreach appears to have become a competing theme between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections in Odisha. While the BJP-led Union government is focused on the upcoming grand consecration of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, the Odisha government, led by BJD supremo Naveen Patnaik, has announced big plans for dedicating the Shree Mandira Parikrama Prakalpa (SMPP) around the legendary Jagannath temple in Puri on January 17, 2024.

The State Cabinet, chaired by the Odisha CM, on Saturday approved a proposal to transport people from all 314 blocks in the State to participate in the ceremony, a plan on which the government will spend an estimated ₹20 crore. An additional ₹135.88 crore will be spent on disseminating information on the SMPP. The State is also developing Puri in what has been dubbed a “once-in-a-century renovation”.

A statement released after the Cabinet meeting said the SMPP is an innovative initiative of the State government to take forward the transformation of rural Odisha and “globalise the rich Jagannath culture”. “For promotion, preservation and protection of Jagannath Culture and to embrace the people and future generation about the essence of Shree Jagannath Culture, dedication ceremony of SMPP will be held on January 17, 2024 in the temple city of Puri,” the statement said.

“It has been envisaged to mobilize people from block headquarter to Puri for participation in the dedication ceremony and ₹20 crore is required for the purpose. Additionally, in order to organize IEC (information, education and communication) activities at the gram panchayat and block level, ₹135.88 crore will be provided,” the government added.

The BJD government has ear-marked ₹4,224.22 crore for the Augmentation of Basic Amenities and Development of Heritage and Architecture (ABADHA) scheme to transform Puri’s infrastructure.

The SMPP, built at an estimated cost of ₹943 crore, abuts the ‘Meghanada Pacheri’ or the grand boundary around the Jagannath temple. It is broadly divided into nine zones on the northern, southern, and western side. The SMPP includes a seven-metre-wide green buffer zone and a 10-metre-wide pedestrians-only ‘Antar (inner) Pradakshina’ circumambulatory path. The eight-metre-wide outer path will be covered by trees on either side. There will be a 10-metre-wide public convenience zone. 

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration, which manages the 12th century temple, is currently in the process of inviting office-bearers of over 1,000 temples (857 temples in Odisha and 180 outside the State) for the dedication ceremony. Village-level ‘sankirtan dals’ (religious troupes) will hold round-the-clock chanting of the deity’s name.

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