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Odisha CM urged to stop demolishing two sacred mutts in Puri associated with Sikh faith

Odisha CM urged to stop demolishing two sacred mutts in Puri associated with Sikh faith

Bhubaneswar, Sep 11 (UNI) The Sikh community of Odisha has urged Chief minister Naveen Patnaik to stop the demolition of Mangu and Punjabi mutt, the sacred mutts of Puri associated with Sikh faith.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Sukhvinder Kaur and Anil Dhir representing the Sikh community of Odisha, said both these mutts are intricately linked to Jagannath culture.

The letter has assumed significance as the state government has decided to demolish all structures around 75 meters from the Meghnad Prachir of Sri Jagannath temple for security and safety of the 12th century shrine.

Already the government had demolished 900 year old Emar Mutt, Bada Akhada mutt, Chatabar mutt and Nanguli mutt and several shops and other buildings located within the 75 meter radious of the meghnad prachir of the Sri Jagannath temple.

“It is the duty of the Odisha government to preserve such heritage and religious institutions and safeguards the spiritual and emotional values attached to them."

The administration, they said can remove all the commercial establishments and illegal structures, but the Gadi, the Sanctum Sanctorium should be left intact. The relics should be properly preserved or else it will hurt the sentiments of the Sikh community worldwide if the Mutts are razed to the ground.

The letter said the connection between Sikhism and the Jagannath temple goes back to more than 500 years ago when Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited the holy temple to spread the message of Ek Onkar, meaning "one supreme reality".

It was at the Jagannath temple that the Holy Sikh Arti, which is enshrined in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, was composed. Since then the association of Sikhs with the Jagannath temple was formed and continues till today, Mr Dhir said.

Every year, he said thousands of devout Sikhs visit Puri to pay obeisance to Lord Jagannath. The holy temple is as sacred to the Sikh community and any Gurudwara.

Mr Dhir and Mr Kaur said the Mangu Mutt was set up by Bhai Almast, the Sikh preacher and head of the Dhuari of the Udasi sect sometime in 1615 C.E.

He had been deputed to the eastern provinces by Baba Gurditta, the eldest son of Guru Hargobind, to preach the message of Guru Nanak Dev Ji in the eastern provinces.

The image of Baba Shri Chand, the son of Guru Nanak Dev Ji is kept in the shrine inside the mutt. It is because of Almast’s impressive work that Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji chose to visit the place in 1670 CE.

The Mutt was the abode of the Nanak Panthis, who would travel 2000 miles each year to visit Puri. The Nanak Panthis were primarily responsible of taking the Jagannath culture to Northern India and spreading the word of the Lord.

Even after partition, they still came from Lahore each year during the Rath Yatra. Their presence has been recorded till 1955, after which border restrictions were imposed and they could not travel from Pakistan.

Mr Dhir said in 1873, J S Armstrong, Magistrate to the Commissioner, Orissa Division, wrote about the Mutt and its Sikh occupants. The Gajapati Raja of Puri had also granted the right of Chamar Seva or Mayur Pankhi Seva to be rendered by the Mahant of the Math.

Mangu Math also played an important role during the freedom struggle. Many freedom fighters, both from Odisha and upcountry were sheltered here.

Late Gobind Tripathy, freedom fighter from Puri has recollected his stay in the mutt as an inmate and the immense support he and fellow freedom fighters received in the thirties.

Stating that historically, Sikhs have always been seen as the protectors of Hindus and many of the Sikh Gurus and their families gave up their lives for the protection of the Hindu faith and temples, the two mutts, should not be destroyed in the name of development.

UNI DP AKM

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