Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: In what could be termed as a disappointment for millions of Lord Shiva devotees in Odisha, the State government has cancelled the annual 'Bol Bom Yatra' this year over apprehensions of COVID spread.

An order issued by the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) announced the cancellation of the auspicious march by devotees to various Lord Shiva shrines across the length and breadth of the State during the month of Shravan.

The order stated that as SARS CoV-2 infection continues to spread in different areas of the State and as per the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (GoI) guidelines for effective control of COVID-19, the Bol Bom Yatra this year has been suspended.

The Odisha government has already prohibited social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ other gatherings. All religious places are closed for general public till July 16.

It is pertinent to mention here that in the Odia lunar month of Shravan, people carry water from several sacred water bodies and walk barefoot for many miles to pour water on Shiva Lingas on every Mondays during Shravan. These devotees are generally referred to as, 'Bol Bom devotees' or 'Kaudia'. They start their journey on Saturday/ Sunday/ Monday after collecting water from one a sacred place and walk till Monday morning before pouring the collected water on a Shiva Linga at a Temple on Mondays.

"On further assessment of the situation and in the interest of the health of general public, the State Government do hereby order that the above religious activities and congregations remain prohibited and the Kaudias / Bol Bom devotees are not allowed to carry water from religious places or any other sources and also not allowed to walk on public roads and pour water in Temples/ Lord Shiva Temples during the Odia month of Shravan (July/August), 2021," the SRC order stated.

"The above order issued by the State Government shall be strictly implemented in the interest of health of general public," the SRC added.