Dhenkanal: The daily rituals of Lord Chandrashekharjew, the presiding deity of the famous Shaivite shrine of Kapilash in this district, went haywire on Thursday after three priests and six supakars (cooks) resigned from their service demanding a pay rise. As a result, no rituals could be performed in time at the shrine in the early hours of Thursday until 2 p.m., with the deity having to remain without any offerings until 2 p.m. Normalcy returned to the shrine after the endowment department hired outside priests and conducted the rituals. The priests hired from outside finally performed rituals and made offerings around 2 p.m. The development sent chatter raging and sparked strong resentment among devotees.
Reports say that the priests and supakars of the Kapilash shrine were paid Rs. 6,400 each per month by the endowment department. Previously, they were each paid Rs 5,400 per month but their monthly salary was increased by Rs 1,000 from March following their repeated requests. However, they insisted on a further increase in wages.
A meeting was held at the District Collectorate to discuss their claims and seek an amicable solution on Wednesday. The priests and supakars reiterated their demand for salary increase in the meeting which was attended by the collector and the sub-collector who is also the endowment officer. The collector made every effort to appease them, but the priests and supakars refused to yield until their demands were met. They tendered their resignation and left the meeting. As a result, the deity’s daily rituals were impacted on Thursday. The first ritual that had to be completed within 10 hours could not be celebrated.
Endowment Inspector Pradyumna Tripathy confirmed the development by stating that the three priests and six supakars insisted on a salary increase, refusing to give in and resigned from their service despite the collector’s best efforts to appease them. Snigdharani Dhal, a sub-collector and staffing officer, said he repeatedly demanded a pay rise. However, the rituals of the deity will never stop. The rituals were carried out after priests from the Balaram temple were hired for the purpose, she added.