A Supreme Court-appointed expert committee visited the Mahakal Shiva temple of Ujjain on Thursday to ascertain the extent of damage done to the shivalinga due to regular rubbing during the abhishek ceremonies performed every day by devotees.
The committee comprising members of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and Geological Survey of India (GSI) was appointed by the apex court after petitioner Sarika Guru filed a petition. The petition argued that that the shivalinga is getting eroded and damaged due to constant application of puja materials including vermilion, ashes and panchamrit (mixture of milk, ghee, curd, honey and sugar) by devotees over the years. The matter has been listed for October 3 in the Supreme Court. The committee has to submit its report before that.
Mahakal temple administrator Kshitij Sharma said, “the committee visited and took stock of sanctum sanctorum and the ancient pillars located inside the premises.” ASI regional director Madan Singh Chauhan led the team with ASI director (science, archaeological chemist) Dr V.K.Saxena, GSI deputy director general Hemraj Suryavanshi and GSI director L.L. Vishwakarma to submit a report on the extent of damage and ways to prevent further erosion.
Mahakal or Mahakaleshwar in Ujjain is one of the 12 Jyotirlingam situated across the country. The place is thronged by millions of devotees and pilgrims every year. According to preliminary observations, the team suggested that the erosion might be the result of continued use of water and excessive usage of panchamrit during worship.
Meanwhile the mention of bhang as one of the cause for erosion has created a controversy among the religious gurus and those involved in the puja of the temple. Ujjaini Vidwat Parishad, a body of intellectuals of Ujjain, has suggested that bhang is also a prime reason for the damage to the shivlinga. However, Akhil Bharatiya Pujari Mahasangh has condemned the Ujjaini Vidwat Parishad's claims. In a statement, Mahasangh secretary Pandit Jasraj Sharma alleged that the Parishad has hurt the sentiments of Hindu religion and age-old traditions.