Rats, priests and sleeping Gods: an unusual mix that finds itself at the center of a stir within Odisha's Jagannath Temple. After a rat infestation earlier this year, authorities moved to install rat repellent machines in the temple. However, this has reportedly been opposed by temple priests. Reason: It will disturb the sleep of temple deities at night.
In January, a rat menace in the 12-century shrine was reported where rodents were found nibbling at the attires of sibling gods Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Priests also raised an alarm that the rodents may damage the wooden idols of the deities.
A devotee reportedly donated a rat repellent machine to solve the issue which the temple administration wanted to keep in the sanctum sanctorum. However, its stay was a short and unwelcome one after the servitors of the Jagannath temple opposed it saying the humming noise it made would disturb the deities in their sleep, Hindustan Times reported.
The temple administration was forced to remove the machine and have reverted to using narrow-headed pitchers with jaggery inside to trap the rats. The machine might have solved the temple's tedious 'catch-and-release' policy as rats cannot be killed or poisoned within the temple premises.
"We are laying traps to catch the rats alive and are releasing them outside according to the provisions adopted over the years. We are not allowed to use rat poison in the temple," Temple administrator Jitendra Sahoo had said in January.
The temple has been overrun by mice, Times of India reported, with the rodents littering the place with urine and faeces. Priests are allegedly finding it difficult to perform rituals with the rodents, and their waste, lying around.
Servitors are also afraid that the rats burrowing through the gaps in the stone floor may compromise the structural integrity of the sanctum sanctorum, TOI reported.