It had been decided earlier, after much deliberation, not to move the statue out of its chamber to make room for the repair works (see post about that at http://janabahaa.blogspot.com/2008/09/more-of-same-meetings-and-more-meetings.html). What that meant was that all of the work that was required to be done from within the inner chamber where the statue resides needs to be carried out by the officiating priest himself, as no one but the officiating priest is allowed to enter that area. Since it was practically impossible for the guruju to carry out all the masonry and carpentry works by himself, while fulfilling his duties as the officiating priest, four more members of the Janabahaa Dyo priest clan have undergone sanctification rituals and are presently observing strict procedures (like shaving their heads, cooking their own food and eating only one meal a day, sleeping at the temple, etc.), which also promotes them to the level of the officiating priest. So this team of five will now carry out all the repair works from the inside chamber, while architects and engineers provide instructions from the outside.
Another problem posed by the decision not to remove the statue was to protect it from falling debris while the ceiling and the beams above it are replaced. The solution to this is to build a wooden case around the statue – virtually a box with a strong ceiling and three walls (leaving only the front face open for devotees to view the deity). Any wood, brick or mud that falls off while removing the old beams above it would fall on on top of and around the box, effectively protecting the deity inside it.
A framework of metal scaffolding is being built for the box, around which wooden planks of suitable strength will be securely bound.
All photos by Alok Tuladhar.