The Odisha government on Tuesday said it will strictly enforce the ban on ganja at Shiva temples across the state. 'Ganja' or marijuana in no form be used in any Shiva temple in the state, the government told the districts.
A direction regarding this was issued to all districts, and the police by the Odia Language, Literature and Culture Department.
"Like the practice of animal sacrifice was banned at Bhagabati Temple in Banapur in Khurda, and subsequently it was banned in most of the temples, the restriction will be imposed on the use of ganja in all Shiva temples in Odisha," Culture Minister Ashwini Patra said.
'The prasad at Shiva temple contained intoxicants'
The state government's decision came after Padma Shri Baba Balia, the head of Ananta Balia Trust, wrote to the Excise Department last month to impose restrictions on the use of ganja.
He said that this kind of intoxication, which has a direct impact on the health of people, was being used in the name of 'bhog' or prasad.
'Gharsana' ritual uses Ganja
While ganja is not offered to the deity at Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar, it is a century-old practice observed during 'Gharsana' ritual at Akhandalamani shrine in Bhadrak. The 'bhog' is later offered to the devotees.
MLA opposes ban
Opposing the decision, Congress MLA Suresh Routray said, "Bhang is offered to Lord Narayan, while ganja is offered to Lord Shiva. These are 'bhog' and should not be banned."
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