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Maharani of Puri to visit Jagannath Temple after 40 years

On April 8, 2007, Maharani of Puri will be visiting the Puri Jagannath Temple after 40 years. She is not arriving from any far off place instead she lives 500 meters from the temple. To uphold an ongoing tradition, she has not visited the temple since becoming the queen.

Maharani Lilabati Pattamahadei, wife of Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb, is upholding a practice which says that the queen should only visit the shrine once in her lifetime. The last Maharani offered prayers in 1966.

Nobody insists that the queen should follow the tradition but it is still continued. Record of Rights (RoR) of the Jagannath Temple has written rules on how the queen should be welcomed inside the temple.

According to this report in the Indian Express
Sources said the maharani of Puri is the only woman on this earth who has the right to worship inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Jagannath temple.

"This privilege is bestowed upon the Maharani because her husband, the Maharaja, is considered the first sevak (servant) of Lord Jagannath," said Rabindra Pratihari, a priest.
The entire area of the temple will be covered with screens so that nobody can see the queen. She will be carried on a palanquin from the palace to the temple. The priests are not allowed in temple when the queen visits. The rituals at this time are carried out by a young boy priest. The only people present will be the royal family members. Even the royal family members are not allowed inside the inner circle.

Indian Express reports
No outsiders including priests would be allowed to be present in the inner circle of the temple only a mudiratha (a child priest) and a woman from a family of priests would help the maharani to perform puja.