Herald: Navdurga temple priests oppose idol replacement

Navdurga temple priests oppose idol replacement

19 Feb 2016 06:00am IST
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19 Feb 2016 06:00am IST
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Say they will not give the temple keys to the committee; refute panel’s claims that Goddess had approved change of idol

Team Herald

PONDA: The Navdurga temple priests have stated they will not allow the temple committee to replace the old Navdurga idol with a new one, and will not hand over the temple keys to the committee for the same.

Members of the Ghaisas family, who are the priests in the Navdurga temple in Marcaim and who offer daily services, including puja and Kaul Prasad to the goddess, said that it was the committee’s second attempt to establish control over the temple by replacing the old idol.

They stated that the first attempt was the termination of services and legal rights of the Ghaisas priests in 2008. However, the Ghaisas family successfully reclaimed their rights as well as the temple keys after challenging the temple committee’s decision in the District Court on November 7, 2015.

The priests have further said that the temple committee had no proof that the temple was built by the forefathers of the Mahajans. They also rejected the committee’s claim that it belongs to the Mahajans of the Goud Saraswat family and said they have enough proof to show that it belongs to villagers of Marcaim.

They also refuted the committee’s claims that Goddess Navdurga herself had given her approval to change the idol. They claimed that temple committee’s intention in replacing the old idol with a new one was to establish its right over the temple as the committee had no proof to show that its members were the owners of the temple or that the Mahajans had installed the idol 450 years back, as they were claiming. 

Addressing the media at their residence adjacent to the Navdurga Temple on Thursday, the priests, including Anand Ramchandra Ghaisas, claimed that they had enough proof that temple was more than 800 years old, while the Mahajan Act and related Comprimisso regulation came into force during the Portuguese era. They also asked the committee to prove its claims that the idol had been changed three times in the last 450 years.

The priests stated that 36 generations had served the Goddess, but they did not come across evidence that would back the temple committee’s claims. They added, “Even in the Comprimisso (bylaws of Temple Mahajan Association) there is no such mention.”

They also stated that the people were attached to the old idol, and hence, it should be preserved, like several idols across the country.

The priest family also showed a report of Dr Pramodh Dandwate, Associate Professor at the Department of Archaeology of Deccan College and Research Institute, Pune, claiming that there is no inscription on the idol, but based on the style, it could be dated to the late medieval period (Post Kadamba).

They also claimed that in 1862, several years before the Mahajan Act was created, two Ghaisas family members had released three temples from debt, including the Navdurga temple, by pledging gold and silver.

The Ghaisas family also stated that a 1775 document of the Marcaim comunidade proved that the villagers were owners of the temple. They stated that the time had come to change the Mahajan Act and that the Bahujan Samaj, who perform a majority of the services, are the real owners who should get their rights.

The priests stated that the temple committee had staked claim to the temple by terminating their services and appointing new one, but the Ghaisas family had challenged the same in the District Court, which issued an order to retain their right of offering tirth, performing puja and Kaul Prasad, and to hold the keys of the temple.

“We will not give the keys to the committee to replace the idol. The Goddess wishes to remain in the temple in the form of the old idol, which devotees feel is charming, attractive and blesses them whatever they wish for,” said the priests.

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