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Odisha’s Lingaraj Temple Ordinance

Context:

The Central government has told the Odisha government that its ordinance to bring the 11th-century Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar and its associated temples under a special law is outside the legislative competence of the state legislature. It also said the ordinance is in conflict with the rules laid down under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958 (AMASR Act).

Relevance:

GS I- Art and Architecture, GS II- Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Lingaraj Temple Ordinance, 2020
  2. Why has the Centre opposed the ordinance?
  3. Lingaraja Temple

Lingaraj Temple Ordinance, 2020

  • It was introduced to manage the rituals and other activities of the temple and eight other associated temples.
  • This was intended to be on similar lines of the special Act which manages the affairs of the Jagannath temple in Puri, one of the four dhams in India.
  • At present, the Lingaraj temple is being governed under the Odisha Hindu Religious Endowment Act.
  • The ordinance proposed the formation of Lingaraj Temple Managing Committee with a full-time administrator looking after day-to-day affairs of the shrine.
  • Under the Act, a fund creation was proposed to deposit income derived from immovable and movable properties of the temple.
  • The temple has around 1,500 acres in various parts of the state and the land in most of the places are under encroachment. 
  • The ordinance was passed by the state cabinet on December 15, 2020.
  • The ordinance vested the management of the temple in a 15-member committee that will administer the temple and its properties including temples outside the premises and mathas.
  • Since the Assembly was not in session, the new law was proposed to be enacted through an ordinance.

Why has the Centre opposed the ordinance?

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has said several sections of the proposed ordinance were in conflict with the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) Act.
    • The AMASR Act provides for preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
  • The ministry has pointed out that the state government has already violated the AMASR Act around Lingaraj temple by building modern structures.
  • The ministry contended that since the ordinance covers 12 centrally protected monuments including the Lingaraj temple and three tanks, it was outside the legislative competence of the state legislature as it violates the provisions of AMASR Act, 1958.
  • The ministry has further said that an independent Act vesting administrative powers to a managing committee, thus facilitating dual administrative authorities will result in conflict.

Lingaraja Temple

  • Lingaraja Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the Indian state of Odisha.
  • The temple is the most prominent landmark of Bhubaneswar city and one of the major tourist attractions of the state.
  • The Lingaraja temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar.
  • The temple represents the quintessence of the Kalinga architecture and culminating the medieval stages of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.
  • The temple is believed to be built by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, with later additions from the Ganga rulers.
  • The temple is built in the Deula style that has four components namely, vimana (structure containing the sanctum), jagamohana (assembly hall), natamandira (festival hall) and bhoga-mandapa (hall of offerings), each increasing in the height to its predecessor.
  • Bhubaneswar is called the Ekamra Kshetra as the deity of Lingaraja was originally under a mango tree (Ekamra) as noted in Ekamra Purana, a 13th-century Sanskrit treatise.
  • The temple is active in worship practises, unlike most other temples in Bhubaneswar and Shiva is worshipped as Harihara, a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva.
  • Lingaraja temple is maintained by the Temple Trust Board and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

-Source: Indian Express

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