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Vikash Sharma

Puri: In view of the surge in Covid-19 cases across Odisha, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Saturday decided to stop entry of devotees into the Puri Srimandir till May 15, 2021.

However, the age-old traditions of Niti-Kanti (rituals) of Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannatha will continue as usual. The decision t0o close the temple for devotees was taken at an urgent meeting convened by SJTA in view of the upsurge in Covid-19 cases, on Saturday.

As per official sources, all the challenges posed by COVID19 were discussed in detail.

Unanimous decision was also taken to ensure that the health of sevayats, who conduct the daily Seva-puja of Mahaprabhu, is not compromised.

Since the rituals related to the upcoming Puri RathaYatra will begin from Akashya Tritiya (this year on May 15), the spread of COVID-19 among Sevayat families will prove detrimental to the observance of the ensuing festivals.

In the backdrop of such issues, several important decisions have been taken by the SJTA.They include:

-Shree Jagannatha Temple will remain closed for Darshan of Lords by the public till 15/05/21. All daily rituals will continue with help of Sevayats and temple officials.

-Regular screening and testing for Sevayat families and temple officials will be taken up to ensure that cases of COVID-19 amongst them are detected at an early date and are provided effective treatment.

-COVID care center made operational at Niladri Bhakt Niwas will be further strengthened as per requirement. Constant review of the same will be taken up.

-Arrangements for shifting of serious cases for treatment to Bhubaneswar will be ensured seamlessly. Administrator, Development will act as nodal officer from temple administration side. Arrangements are being made at SUM and other Hospitals in Bhubaneswar.

-Awareness programs to continue to popularise the use of masks, sanitisers, physical distancing.

-Focus for vaccination will be on those who are involved in daily Seva-Puja of the Mahaprabhu and also those involved in the construction of Ratha.

-All preparations for construction of chariots – Rathas to continue as per traditions. SJTA will take advance steps for procurement of masks and sanitisers for use during Chandan Yatra, Snana Yatra, and Ratha Yatra.

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