Priceless Buddhist and Jain relics

Statesman News Service, Aug 17, 2007

JAGATSINGHPUR, India -- Centuries old Buddhist and Jain idols, which have been worshipped in different Hindu temples in the Jagatsinghpur district, are in a now in a dilapidated state due to non-preservation and a lack of maintenance by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and department of culture.

This has been a matter of serious concern for researchers, historians and other people of the district.

Legend has it that this and other coastal districts, were at some point in time influenced by Buddhist and Jain culture. Recent excavations in the dMahanadi deltaic region have led to the discovery of Buddhist and Jain images and monasteries containing terracotta pottery.

Interestingly, Buddhist and Jain idols are worshiped by the locals as ‘Hindu idols’ in more than 25 temples.
One veteran priest opined that after the decline of Buddhism in the 12 century AD, the reigning hindu kings of the Kingdom of Kalinga installed some of the Buddhist and Jain idols in Hindu temples.

The archaeological department has found a few temples in the district where Buddhist and Jain idols have been worshipped as Hindu idols.

The department of culture, however, has no data regarding the number of Buddhist and Jain temples said Mr Pitambar Swain, district culture officer. Consequently, the department has not taken any steps to preserve, repair and maintain them.

Professor Bholnath Rout said that Khabmakul under Balikuda block have Buddhist stupas and viharas in this region, but no steps have been taken for to exacvate them. He added that many temples are now in state of ruin due to lack of maintenance and repair.

The sanctum sanctorium is falling apart while the wooden pillars are being eaten away by termites.
Locals have also alleged that smugglers have stolen some of the rare images of Buddha. This has been possible due to a lack of security. Also, a cash crunch does not allow daily rituals to be performed regularly.

It maybe mentioned that the archaeological department has renovated temples in Sahada, Parbatipur and Kostimalikapur while no steps have taken by the department of culture.