Sea level rise forces Odisha temple to lift 400-year-old curb on men touching idols: Ma Panchubarahi in Satabhaya village is nothing like any other temple in the whole nation. Men can’t touch the five idols in the sea beach shrine; only if married Dalit women from the local fishing community can have the restricted privilege regarding performing the rituals.
There has been no omission for 400 years. With rising sea waters — bring on by climate change — intimidating the very existence of the temple, which curb has been unenthusiastically lifted reportedly.
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This one is the duty-bound to put somewhere else to a new temple 12km inland, the priestesses and there will be no option but this will permit men into the chamber sanctorum in order to transport the heavy black stone idols.
“It is not possible for women to pull it off. We need many men and sculptors to move the idols,” Sabita Dalei, one of the five priestesses who work in shifts, says.
The rare exercise happened in the Odisha on the last Friday (today). Once the 1.5-tonne deities are carried piggyback on the male laborers in order reach their final and main destination in Bagapatia, the priestess is all set to ‘purify’ them with a sacred ritual.
“At a time when many temples in the country are out of bounds for Dalits, and women face restrictions in places such as Kerala’s Sabarimala, Ma Panchubarahi is a beacon of hope for women,” Dharanidhar Rout, a former college principal, told to the various media houses.
“The sea has been advancing towards Satabhaya for a while. It has swallowed many houses and agricultural plots. Fifty years ago, the temple was 5km from the beach.
Now, only a few meters remain between it and the sea,” said further by Dalei.