"Customary practice with Vedic & Puranic significance": Plea in Supreme Court seeks Kanwar Yatra permission in Deoghar, Jharkhand

  • Sakshi Shukla
  • 11:07 PM, 30 Jul 2021

A petition has been moved before the Supreme Court, seeking directions/guidelines to the State authorities, allowing customary practices at Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple and Baba Basukinath Temple, Deoghar. The devotees pray for allowing of customary Kanwar Yatra in Deoghar region of Jharkhand citing historic importance and faith of people – only for Pujaris, Pandas & 5000 devotees who adhere/submit proof of their complete vaccination.

“The custom of offering of the Ganga Jal from Sultanganj (Bihar) where the Ganga River flows north is an ancient practice. The significance of the Baba Baidyanath Temple and the Kanwar Yatra is recorded in Veds and Puranas and there should not be any interruption in this ancient custom,” the plea states.

Grounds inter-alia preferred by the petitioner:

  1. Not holding Kanwar Yatra and eventual offerings of Ganga Jal from Sultanganj in Bihar to Baba Baidyanath shall have a profound effect on the faith of the crores of individuals who are devouts of Baba Baidyanath and Hindu Faith. Adding the significance attached with the temple, the petitioners contend, “It is only the second Jyotirlinga where the shaktipeeth is located. The Shiva and Shakti reside together at the Baba Baidyanath Temple.”
  2. As per order dated 30th June, 2021, in compliance with the MHA notification, Government of Jharkhand restricted Shravani Mela or Kanwar Yatra for the year 2021.
  3. 8-step mechanism devised by the Temple authorities, to avoid defiance of COVID protocol are further added.
  4. Even though kanwar yatra cannot be undertaken by general public, State authorities may allow limited gathering in view of Article 25 and customary practices. For this, selection may be undertaken by the authorities themselves with specific directions like a mandatory RT PCR test, vaccination and likewise.
  5. Drawing significance of Ganajal Arpan, petitioners say, “The interruption in the holy ritual will cause deep agony and pain to the Hindu Devouts.”

It is added,

“The Petitioner understands that the permission to allow mela or yatra in the entire State of Jharkhand would pose risk of rapid increase in COVID-19 cases. Therefore, the Petitioners have limited prayer of directions only for the Deoghar Baidyanath Dham and that to by the Pujaris and Pandas of the dham and general public limiting to 5000 per day entry to temple. Alternately, if this Hon’ble Court takes a different view and is not in favour allowing general public, then the limited prayer of the Petitioner of allowing the Pujaris and Pandas of the dham to undertake the Yatra be allowed.”

Prayers sought by the petitioner:

  • Issue Mandamus directing Respondent to frame guidelines, permitting priests/pandas of Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga Temple and limited devotees, to perform customary Kanwar Yatra & Sharavni Pooja at Baba Baidyanath Jyotirlinga and Baba Basukinath Temple.
  • Allow selected number of people to collect holy gangajal from Sultanganj, Bihar and offer the same at Deities at Baidyanath Jyotirlinga, Basukinath Temples.
  • Issue a Mandamus directing respondents to make appropriate arrangements for Pandas to carry out Kanwar Yatra from Deoghar to Sultanganj.

Petition drawn by Advocate(s) Rit Arora and Riju Mani Talukdar, Filed by Advocate Deepak Goel.

Case Title: Panda Dharam Rakshini Sabha v. Union of India

(photo credits: Financial express)