Jagannath Temple cooks go on an indefinite strike

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Puri, Dec 29 (ANI): Cooks at the world-renowned Jagannath Temple in Puri have gone on an indefinite strike in the wake of a deadlock with the temple administration.

The temple kitchen, which is considered to be the largest in the world, prepares mahaprasad (offerings) for around 30,000 devotees daily. It is not doing any business due to the strike.

The cooks allege that there have been undue delays in performing daily religious rituals of the temple. They claim that such delays have resulted in huge financial losses, as there have been no sales of the mahaprasad to devotees.

"We are only preparing mahaprasad for the deities, and not for the devotees because the rituals of the temple take a lot of time. Due to this, the cooks have to face huge losses, as they can't sell the mahaprasad to the devotees. We will not cook until the temple administration gives us assurance that the temple rituals will finish on time," said Biswanath Samantara, Secretary of the Sua Mahasuar Nijog (the union of the cooks).

Hundreds of cooks and pilgrims were dejected, as there were no sales of the mahaprasad at Anand Bazaar, a market at the 12th century shrine.

Many devotees had even paid for the mahaprasad but did not get any.

"We have came here for just two days and we have not had the mahaprasad yet, though we have paid for it. Now, there is no time for us to wait for the cooks to call off their strike," said Ramababu, a devotee.

To mark their protest of the temple's administration, the cook kept pots of unsold mahaprasad within the temple premises.

Reportedly, around two hundred cooks sell mahaprasad worth one million rupees every day during festive seasons. Many incur a profit of more than rupees 5,000 Dollars on such a day.

According to reports, though, the strike has been called off as the temple administration has assured the cooks that the religious rituals will be performed in a timely manner. (ANI)

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