Suryakant Jena

The five-day period of Panchaka Brata of the Kartik Month began from Monday. The festive occasion will culminate with the Kartik Purnima on November 19.

As per long-followed tradition, lakhs of people in Odisha observe the five days of the Panchaka with utmost sanctity. The period witnesses a massive footfall of devotees at the Puri Shree Jagannath Temple and other major shrines in the State. Habishyalis, who observe partial fasting all throughout the month of Kartik up until the full moon day, throng temples to pay obeisance to the Lords during the Panchaka.

In order to prevent transmission of Covid-19 due to the large gathering, the Srimandir administration will close the temple for devotees for three days this week. After remaining off the limits for darshan on Sunday due to usual Covid protocols, the temple has been closed today for the Bada Ekadasi. Usually, lakhs of people from all around the state visit the 12th-century shrine during the day to witness the breathtaking Laxmi Narayan Besha of the Lords.

On this special occasion, all three primary deities of the temple are adorned in gold embellishments, flower festoons, pata clothes by the Pushapalaka servitors.

Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has also decided to restrict the public for darshan on 'Kartika Purnima' on November 19 to avoid violation of the pandemic protocols. However, all the rituals will continue to be observed behind the doors by sevayats.

Tight security has been put in place to ensure strict compliance of prohibitory guidelines in and around the temple during the period and also aid devotees in a hassle-free darshan without any untoward incidents when the shrine reopens.

Three Additional SPs, 10 DSPs, 30 Inspectors, and a total of 20 platoons of police force have been mobilized under the security arrangements at the shrine during the Panchaka period.

Meanwhile, thousands of devotees who turned up at the temple on Monday to have darshan of the Holy Trinity on the Bada Ekadashi were left heartbroken due to the curbs on the entry of the public into the shrine and returned after witnessing the Patitapabana, the representative deity of Shree Jagannath placed near the Lion's Gate of the temple.