NCERT English -Model letter to Editor about exploitation by priests
Sub .. Plight of pilgrims in the Jagannath Temple, Puri
This morning, I was aghast to see three temple priests accosting a group of nearly 50 devotees from Rajasthan inside the Jagannath temple premises. The trio was making monetary demands which the hapless tourists were apparently not in a position to meet. The three priests hurled insults at the group in very hateful way. The head of the tourist group bore the brunt of the three temple priests. They tore apart his shirt, threw his head gear on the ground (a grave insult for Rajastahnis), and snatched his wallet. The victim, unable to offer any resistance to the intimidation, went down on his knees and begged the trio for some reprieve, but the abuses continued with increasing vulgarity. Other members of the group just looked on, unable to decide how to come to the aid of their headman. It was a shocking and shameful sight for the onlookers.
I understand such fleecing is commonplace in and around the temple. It has been there for ages, but in recent times, the menace has become increasingly alarming. It is nothing but thuggery – a shameful practice which is repugnant to the tenets of Hinduism. It is a scourge that needs the heavy hand of law to be eliminated. I request the temple administration and the state government of Odisha to rise to the occasion, and use coercive methods to rein in the truant priests who bring such disrepute to this pilgrimage centre considered the most paramount among the four ‘Dhams’ of Hindu religion.