If everything goes well, people irrespective of their castes could have darshan of deities from a close distance inside the 300-year-old Jagannath Temple at Keredagada in Odisha’s Kendrapara district in the near future.
The sanctum of sanatorium of the temple has been out of bound for all devotees for the past 12 years after Dalits demanded entry into the main temple in 2006. Prior to that, members of the Dalit community were not being allowed entry into the temple premises. They were paying obeisance through the nine holes created on the temple wall, while the upper caste people had access to the main temple.
The issue of Dalit entry into the temple had made two communities confront each other in 2006. An organisation advocating Dalit rights had moved the Orissa High Court which had ordered that every Hindu had got equal rights to pay obeisance in the temple. The controversy had then triggered a nationwide debate.
To find an amicable solution to crisis, the district administration had mediated between the upper castes and the lower castes. It was then decided that nobody would go closer to the idol of Lord Jagannath and all devotees could have darshan from a distance. Accordingly, the administration had created a barrier up to which all devotees could go.
Now efforts have been initiated to throw the temple open to all castes.