Sharmili Mallick

Koraput/Baripada: After nine long months, the doors of the Lord Jagannath Temple in Koraput Town re-opened for devotees on Wednesday.

Apart from the Jagannath temple of Sabar Srikhetra, several other shrines including the Gupteswar temple also reopened this morning. These religious places are allowing devotees while adhering to the Covid-19 standard operating procedure and safety protocols.

The decision to open all shrines in the district was taken at a high-level meeting on Monday. It was chaired by district Collector Madhusudan Mishra while religious heads, public representatives and government officials participated.

However, the religious institutions in the district will again be closed for three-days on December 31, January 1 and 2 keeping in mind the new year rush and large gatherings.

"The district administration has issued certain guidelines for the priests and devotees who visit the temple. Use of masks and hand sanitizers have been made mandatory," said a servitor at the Koraput Lord Jagannath Temple.

"I visited the temple at 8.30 AM and was overjoyed after I had a glimpse of the deities. It was a long wait as the temple was closed for over nine months due to Covid-19 pandemic," said a devotee at the shrine.

Religious places in Koraput remained close since March this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent nationwide lockdown. However after the reopening of Puri Srimandir, locals demanded the administration to reopen religious institutions in the district.

Meanwhile, religious institutions in Mayurbhanj district will reopen from January 5 with strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines, informed Baripada sub-collector P Anwesha Reddy on Wednesday.

Shrines including Jagannath Temple and Haribaladev Jew Temple at Baripada Town, Kichakeshwari Temple at Khiching, Baba Kakharua Baidyanath Mandir in Manatri , Simleswar Shiva Temple in Simulia and Debakunda's Ambika Temple will reopen from January 5.

The decision to open the shrines was taken at a meeting of the district administration and representative of temples on Tuesday.

"Though there was a delay in the decision to reopen temples, we welcome it," said Kameswar Tripathy, President of Odisha Mandira Sevayat Sangha (OMSS) at Baripada.