The Puri administration said that no decision has been taken on the demolition of Mangu and Punjabi mutts associated with Sikh faith after concerns were raised by community over their pulling down.
We are only targeting shops and other commercial establishments those have come up in the mutt structure, said Puri district collector Balwant Singh on Friday, adding that no decision has been taken keeping in mind religious sentiments attached to them.
Sikh community members turned apprehensive after the administration took measurements of the Mangu and Punjabi mutts recently.
The connection between Sikhism and the Jagannath temple goes back more than 500 years, when Guru Nanak Dev Ji visited the holy temple to spread the message of Ek Onkar one supreme reality, said Sukhvinder Kaur, an advocate, who, along with historian Anil Dhir, sought intervention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to halt the demolition.
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. Every year, thousands of devout Sikhs visit Puri to pay obeisance to Lord Jagannath, said Ms. Kaur.
According to the memorandum submitted to Mr. Patnaik, the Mangu mutt was set up sometime in 1615 CE by Bhai Almast, the Sikh preacher and head of the Dhuari of the Udasi sect.
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 Almasts impressive work that Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji chose to visit the place in 1670 CE, said Ms. Kaur.
The mutt was the abode of the Nanak Panthis, who would travel 2,000 miles each year to visit Puri , she pointed out.
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, she said.