The Jagannath temple administration in Puri has decided to introduce a biometric attendance system for about 2,000 priests at the 12th century shrine.
Around 85 servitors of different groups (Nijog) offer services at the main sanctum sanctorum and other sub-shrines on the temple premises every day, and delay in rituals of the presiding deities was often attributed to priests reaching the temple late.
According to sources, as many as 23 rituals are performed at the temple from 6am till late in the night. On festive occasions, 32 rituals take place. “This is perhaps the only shrine in the country where a whole lot of complex rituals are performed daily. The priests play a vital role in their timely completion. Biometric attendance system can streamline the rituals,” temple’s chief administrator Arvind Padhee told “Through the biometric attendance, we can keep tabs on priests, playing truant,” Padhee said.
Temple authorities said latecomers may face pay cut. Currently, the lowest per day remuneration is Rs 160, while the maximum is Rs 850. “Earlier the priests were paid peanuts. As part of their welfare measures, salaries were hiked by 70% in April, 2013,” said a temple officer.
Padhee said the system would be introduced only after the distribution of identity cards to servitors. Wary of the menace of ‘fake’ priests at the Jagannath temple, the Odisha government last month announced that it would issue identity cards to the shrine servitors during the grand Nabakalebar festival (when the idols of the deities will be replaced) in 2015.Arvind Padhee Jagannath temple administration Nijog