Bhubaneswar: Following the Orissa High Court's order, the Endowment Commission on Monday fixed modalities to reopen 18,000 temples under its jurisdiction.

The modalities emphasised on 'darshan' at temples by devotees with strict adherence to all standard COVID-19 guidelines which include maintenance of social distance, sanitizers at the entrances and frequent sanitation of temples premise. However, large scale congregation and mass entry have been denied.

According to the Endowment Commission, devotees will only be allowed for 'Darshan' and other special offer to deities and Puja are strictly prohibited. "Adhering to these Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs), the State can decide to open all religious institutions in gradual and phased manner," said the Commission.

Soon after the issuance of modalities, Odisha Chief Secretary took to twitter and said, "State govt have earlier empowered Collectors to take local level decisions to open religious institutions for public worship after discussing with stakeholders & putting SoPs in place. It is understood that the process in on for opening religious institutions in different districts."

On the other hand, Endowment Inspector Niroj Chotray said, "COVID-19 guidelines of using of masks and frequent sanitisation of temples are kept mandatory for the temple administrators. Big festivals and Pujas where there are chances of mass congregation have been denied. We are waiting for government's response in this regard."

(Edited By Ramakanta Biswas)