The centuries-old Panchubarahi temple in Odisha's Kendrapada district was recently swallowed by giant sea waves. Eroding rhe coastline in Kendrapada for decades, the marauding sea devoured one village after another before it finally razed to the ground the temple, dashing the hopes of locals who often offered prayers there seeking respite from the scourge of Mother Nature.
According to one of the former residents, the locals perceived the shrine as the "only visible sign of human existence" in Satabhaya village.
"With that gone, our last hope that the sea may stop its advance has also crumbled," Basant Sahani said.
As per officials, the state government had in 2018 relocated as many as 571 vulnerable families to a rehabilitation colony at Bagapatia, located about 10 km from the sea coast. It was the first such rehabilitation and resettlement initiative in the state for people displaced by sea erosion.
Away from their hometown, much of which has been eaten up by the sea, some of its former residents, however, visited Satabhaya village from time to time to pay obeisance at the Panchuvarahi temple, although the idol of the deity has also been relocated to the rehabilitation colony.
An official of Rajnagar tehsil in the district said people in Satabhaya and Kanhupur villages had long been wanting to shift to a safer place, unlike some neighbouring hamlets, where locals were skeptical about moving to a new area.
The government, after consultations with locals, set up the rehabilitation colony in Bagapatia, he stated.
Shivendra Narayan Bhanjadeo, the scion of an erstwhile royal family of Rajkanika and the trustee of the temple, said Satabhaya has lost its identity with the caving-in of the shrine.
(With PTI inputs)