Minority Hindus in Jaintia Hills in Christian-majority Meghalaya are engaged a bitter battle over the control of one of the oldest temples in the Northeastern region. The High Court of Meghalaya has been hearing the case. Earlier, it had intervened to find an amicable solution after the warring groups indulged in pitch battles resulting in the shutting down of the temple last month.
The tussle is over the appointment of a priest at the 500-year-old Nartiang Durga Temple also called Jayantee Ma Mandir. Trouble started when the headman brought in another priest, Swappon Bhattacharjee, as devotees were preparing for the Navratri puja at the temple to be performed by Oni Muskut Deshmukh, a descendant of the traditional priest family who has come from Maharashtra.
According to media reports, after hearing the case, the high court had ordered to maintain status quo and Deshmukh to perform the puja, as a majority of the residents want it that way. Majority of the villagers had decided that the Durga Puja at Nartiang temple, will be conducted by Oni Maskut Deshmukh, the permanent priest of the temple and sought necessary assistance in this regard.
The temple is one of the most revered Shakti Peethas in the country. It is believed that Sati Devi left thigh fell here. There are 51 Shakti Peeths linking to the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit. Each temple has shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. The Shakti of Nartiang temple is called Jayantee Devi. The temple is in a bad shape and doesn’t get any state support.