Mrunal Manmay Dash

As the closure of Srimandir in Puri entered its 13th day on Saturday, demands to reopen the temple grew from all sections, including devotees, locals and street vendors.

A local outfit, Jagannath Sena held demonstrations in front of the Srimandir on today demanding the immediate reopening of the temple.

Convenor of the outfit, Priyadarshi Pattanayak said, “At a time when a massive election process is underway and, even markets, liquor shops and other temples are open, closure of the Srimandir does not make any sense.

We demand the administration to reopen the temple as soon as possible, so that the devotees get a chance to avail darshan of their beloved Lord Jagannath,” he said.

A devotee who visited Puri to invite the Lord for her brother’s thread ceremony, said, “I have come with the invitation card as it is customary to call the Lord Jagannath first to any auspicious occasion before distributing the other cards. But as the temple is closed, we will have to manage the ceremony without the custom, which isn't right.”

She said though she knew that the temple has been closed on account of the Covid situation, "But people like servitors and other small street sellers who depended on tourists for their livelihood, are suffering," she said, adding, "the government should consider their plight.”

A street vendor who desperately needs business to feed his family, said," “There are a lot of people like me who depended mostly on the tourists and devotees to earn a living. But with the closure of the temple, it is really getting hard for us to manage our families.”

The Srimandir in Puri has been out of bounds for devotees from January 10 and will remain so till January 3. The decision was taken by the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in the backdrop of an alarming spike in COVID19 cases in Odisha.

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