• Saturday, June 15, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Rat menace has hit this Indian temple but religious faith impedes solutions

A view of Jagannath temple in Puri in the Indian state of Odisha. (ANI Photo/ANI Pic Service)

By: Shubham Ghosh

India is a land of temples and among its most revered ones is Jagannath Temple located in the city of Puri in the eastern state of Odisha. Millions of devotees pay visit to the 12-century temple, which is considered one of the most revered Hindu pilgrimage sites, every year to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath.

However, the temple has also made the headlines for another reason and that is frequent rat attacks. The menace has only multiplied over time with the rodents even destroying silk and cotton garments adorning the deities inside the temple, The Times reported.

What has come in the way of finding a solution to the rodent issue is deep faith. While ultra rat-repellent devices, supposed to be inaudible to humans, were offered to the temple to get rid of the problem, its officials rejected them fearing that they would disrupt the gods’ sleep at night. Besides Lord Jagannath, his siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra are the two other deities worshipped at the temple.

Jitendra Sahoo, an administrator at the temple, said they tested the machines on the temple’s altar and detected a hum.

“We’ve decided not to use the machines because of the hum,” he told The Times.

According to him, the officials believed the machines would disturb the brilliantly coloured deities from getting a sound sleep in the night.

Another solution, killing the rats, has also not worked also for religious reasons. Lord Jagannath (which means Lord of the Universe) is against cruelty to living beings. While the idea of using cats to kill the rats is permitted since that constitutes a natural food chain, the oversized rodents put the felines off.

As of now, the temple workers are using “catch and release” traps to control the rat population but it has not brought a permanent solution, the report added.

One of the reasons for the growing menace are abundant offerings of food called ‘mahaprasad’ left by the devotees for the gods throughout the day. There is a list featuring more than 50 food items that can be offered to the deities at the Jagannath temple — including condensed milk, butter and sweet coconut to sweetened rice puffs and ripe bananas.

The workers at the temple are now pushing for grilles made of steel to be installed around the gods to prevent the roads from chewing their clothes.

Rat droppings are also another issue as the temple workers find it tough to carry out the rituals amid the rats and their wastes.

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