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Last Devadasi of Jagannath temple passes away at 92

As Lord Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra begins today, the centuries old 'Devdasi Seva' practice comes to an end with Mahari Parasmani's demise.

India TV News Desk Edited by: India TV News Desk Puri Published on: July 12, 2021 9:09 IST
jagannath temple
Image Source : PTI

As Lord Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra begins today, the centuries old 'Devdasi Seva' practice comes to an end with Mahari Parasmani's demise.

As Lord Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra begins today, the centuries old 'Devdasi Seva' practice comes to an end with the demise of Mahari Parasmani. The 92-year-old was the last surviving servitor of Lord Jagannath. Because of her old age, she was unable to render her service of reciting Geeta Govinda for the last ten years. She served the Lord for more than eight decades till 2010 when she was compelled to discontinue the seva because of her old age.

Her relative Prasana Kumar Dash performed the last rites. Parasmani died in her sleep on Saturday following a prolonged illness and her mortal remains were consigned to flames at Swargadwar today. 

According to Surendra Mishra, a research scholar on the Jagannath cult, this centuries-old service was deteriorating with the abolition of kingship. Mahari’s rendering service did not prefer to adopt girls and induct them into service as their successors in the fear of losing their lifelong savings and property. Since Maharies dedicate their entire lives to the service of the Lord they were prohibited to marry, said Mishra.

As per practice, a Mahari has to adopt a minor girl, train her into singing, dancing and in various musical instruments before presenting her before the temple authority for inclusion into the service. Mahari is another term for 'devdasi'. It is recorded as ‘Mahari seva’ in the official record of rights of the temple.

For the last two decades, dancing was stopped as almost all the ‘Nachunis’ (dancers) died without introducing their successors to the service. Sasimani and Parasmani were rendering singing services.

Meanwhile, Lord Jagannath Puri Yatra commenced today. Just like last year, the festival will be conducted without the participation of devotees in view of the Covid situation. The government has strictly prohibited devotees at the Grand Road in front of the 12th century shrine in Puri during the chariots procession.

Also Read: Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra to begin today amid strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols

Also Read: No participation of devotees in Jagannath Rath Yatra; COVID-19 negative servitors to pull chariots

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