Miscreants damaged nearly 40 ‘chullahs’ (earthen hearths) in the ‘Rosha Sala’ — the holy kitchen of 12th century Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri.
The kitchen — an important structure of the temple which is regarded as the biggest of any shrine in the country — is prohibited for outsiders. However, someone had caused partial damage to these earthen hearths on Saturday night.
“A joint inquiry has been ordered to look into the incident. We are examining footages of closed-circuit television cameras to ascertain involvement or one or more than one persons. Strict actions will be taken against the culprits,” Puri Collector Samarth Verma said over phone on Sunday.
He said, “the daily rituals have, however, not been affected due to partial damage to the ‘chullahs’.”
Jagannath Temple’s massive kitchen room has 240 chullahs. More than 500 ‘sevayats’ belonging to ‘suara’ (cook) and ‘mahasuara’ are involved in the preparation of 56 types of food, including different varieties of rice, cake and sweets on daily basis. These are offered to deities — Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra.
Sprawled over 15,000 sq ft area, the kitchen as several large halls and the height is about 20 ft.
“Enough food is prepared in the kitchen to feed thousands of devotees every day and on occasion of festivals, numbers of devotees see a massive jump,” said Narasingha Pratihari, a ‘sevayat’.
The ‘chullahs’ are uniquely built and the height of most of these is about 4 ft so that cooks can prepare food in standing position. Outsiders are not allowed to enter the kitchen and they can have glimpse of inside structures through holes.
It is alleged that rivalry between two groups led to the incident.
Some of the ‘chullahs’ were put to use again after minor repair while it would take two days to restore them to the original shape.