Vikash Sharma

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday issued guidelines which will come into force during the upcoming festivals in the month of October and November 2021.

In a latest order, the BMC said that the guidelines will be applicable for various Puja celebrations including Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja, Kartika Brata and Kartik Purnima.

“Earlier, the Odisha government had issued guidelines on September 30 to be observed in view of the impending Covid-19 situation in the State. Further, in earlier order dated 9-8-2021, the government had issued comprehensive guideline for observance of Puja/ celebrations of festivals,” the BMC order read.

As per the BMC order, the following guidelines issued in consonance with the government order will strictly be enforced:

1. Congregation for celebration during Puja including associated religious and cultural congregation shall not be allowed in public within BMC jurisdiction. The Puja Committees/ organisors can conduct Puja in mandaps/ pandals by adopting all Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing, wearing of masks for which they have to obtain permission from the Officer duly authorised by the Commissioner of Police.

2. The Puja shall be conducted in indoor like condition only for observance of rituals without any public participation, pomp and grandeur.

3. The mandaps/pandals shall have to be covered on three sides and on one side to be opened only for the purpose of use by the priest for rituals. This fourth side should be covered properly so as not to allow any public view/darshan of idols by devotees.

4. The idol height in case of requirement shall be less than 4 Ft.

5. Public address system shall not be used during Puja or any other time during these Puja days.

6. At any point of time there shall be not more than 7 persons allowed including the organizers/priests/Kartas/Support staffs etc in the Pandal / Mandap. And all those present shall have to follow strict COVID-19 protocols like social distancing/wearing masks appropriately/ Sanitiztion arrangement. The organizers shall ensure that only those who have been fully vaccinated are allowed for the observance of Puja.

7. There shall be no immersion procession by the organizers. The idols if required will be immersed in artificial ponds to be created by BMC for this purpose.

8. During the immersion, maximum 10 number of person should be involved considering the fact that the size and weight of the idol has been limited this time. The Puja Committee should ensure that all those involved during immersion should be fully vaccinated and adhere to COVID appropriate behaviour at the time of conducting rituals for immersion

9. During the puja period, there shall not be the conduct of any religious procession of any kind or musical or entertainment programme by either any public/group/club/Puja committee etc.

10. Congregation of "Kartika Brata Habishyalis" in temples during the month of Kartika is also prohibited in view of current pandemic scenario.

11. Congregation of large number of citizens during "Kartik Purnima" festival at the Bindusagar Lake, river ghats and other water bodies of BMC area including visit of temples related to the this function on Kartik Purnima day is prohibited in BMC jurisdiction for this year also.

12. The Puja Committee should inform their members to keep all permission/individual COVID Vaccination certificate handy and all times for inspection of enforcement agencies.