In a visit to the Lingaraj Temple preceding his oath-taking ceremony, Governor Raghubar Das found himself embroiled in a dispute between two servitor groups, the Badu nijog and the Brahman nijog, over Lord Lingaraj’s land. The visit to this historic temple took a contentious turn, as the Badu nijog guided Governor Das and his family through the temple, allowing them to perform puja and have darshan of Lord Lingaraj. However, the Brahman nijog raised objections to these actions.
The Brahman nijog alleged that Governor Das had been misinformed and misled during his visit. They contended that the Badu nijog did not have the right to offer ‘bhoga’ to Lord Lingaraj, emphasizing that merely offering water and dry bhoga does not constitute a proper puja. According to the Brahman nijog, only their servitors have the rightful authority to perform puja at the Lingaraj Temple, while others can offer flowers and water to the Lord, but this cannot be considered a full-fledged puja. The Brahman nijog’s secretary, Biranchi Narayan Pati, stated that the Governor was not aware of the temple’s rituals and customs, leading to the misunderstanding.
On the other hand, the Badu nijog refuted these allegations, explaining their role in offering flowers and wood apple leaves to the Lord on behalf of devotees. They clarified that Mahasuar servitors are responsible for preparing the prasad inside the temple, and the Pujapanda nijog performs the puja when the prasad is presented.
The dispute has taken a toll on the temple’s daily rituals, with servitors from the Brahman nijog and Pujapanda nijog resigning from the temple trust board following the controversy. Notably, three groups of servitors – Badu Nijog, Pujapanda Nijog, and Brahman Nijog – are entangled in a disagreement regarding the alleged encroachment of land belonging to Lord Lingaraj within the temple area, causing disruptions in the 11th-century shrine’s daily routines.
After the darshan at the Lingaraj Temple, Governor Das was sworn in as the 26th Governor of Odisha in a special ceremony held at Raj Bhavan, with the oath administered by the Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court.