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Ramakanta Biswas

The Odisha government on Monday allowed Puja Committees and organisers in the State to conduct Ganesh, Durga, Laxmi, Kali Puja and other similar pujas in mandaps and pandals. 

“For conducting Puja in Puja Pandals/Mandaps, the organisers shall apply to and obtain necessary permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorised by him/ her,” said State Special Relief Commissioner in a notification issued on Monday.

“For the area under Commissionerate of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, such permission shall be given by the Commissioner of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar or any other officer authorised by him/ her,” the notification added.

The SRC order clarified that congregation for celebration of the above festivals/puja and associated religious and cultural congregations shall not be allowed in public throughout the State.

However, the government has decided to allow Ganesh Puja celebrations in all educational institutions across the State with participation of limited number of students observing Covid appropriate behaviour.

Similarly, citizens are allowed to observe the said Pujas/ festivals in their premises without causing any congregation at any place and maintaining all safety protocols, such as social distancing, wearing masks, proper sanitisation.

SRC issues following instructions for Puja Committees

1. For conducting Puja in Puja Pandals/ Mandaps, the organizers shall apply to and obtain necessary permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorised by him/ her. For the area under Commissionerate of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, such permission shall be given by the Commissioner of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar or any other officer authorised by him/ her. 

2. Puja(s) shall be conducted in indoor-like condition only for observance of rituals without public participation, pomp and grandeur. 3. Puja Pandals/ Mandaps shall be covered on three sides. The 4th side shall also be covered in a way not to allow any public view of the idols. There shall be no darshan by public/ devotees. 

4. The size of idol shall be less than 4 feet. 

5. There shall be no use of public address system. 

6. At any given point of time, there shall not be more than 7 persons including organisers (Kartas) and priests and support staff present in the Puja Pandal/ Mandap. 

7. The persons present at Puja Pandal/ Mandap shall follow all Covid protocols of social distancing, mask use, personal hygiene and sanitation issued by Central/ State Government/ Local Administration in letter and spirit. 

8. The organizers and other persons involved in conducting the Puja shall abide by any other condition(s) as imposed by Local Administration/ appropriate authority. 

9. There shall be no immersion procession. The idols will be immersed in artificial pond(s) created by the local administration for the purpose. 

10. There shall be no religious procession of any kind of any religious community. 

11. There shall be no musical or any other entertainment programme.

12. Ganesh puja in educational institutions is allowed with participation of limited number of students observing COVID appropriate behavior.

ii. There shall be no musical or any other entertainment programme. 12. Ganesh puja in educational institutions is allowed with participation of limited number of students observing COVID appropriate behavior. 

13. No community feast associated with any puja/ festival during the period shall be allowed.
 
14. All the District Magistrates/ Municipal Commissioners/ Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-C
uttack shall strictly enforce the above guidelines. 

Penal provisions: Any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against in accordance with the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Regulations issued there under besides legal action under Section188 of the IPC and other legal provisions as applicable.

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