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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Phulbani: Police on Thursday conducted flag march in Baliguda town under Kandhamal district ahead of Christmas celebrations scheduled to begin on midnight of 24 December.

Speaking about the preparations by the administration, Sub-Collector of Kandhamal, Subhankar Mohapatra said, "We have had a discussion with all the stakeholders, right from the block level to the district level, regarding the observation of Christmas. Senior officers have been deployed in all blocks to ensure that the people adhere to COVID guidelines while celebrating the festivities."

"Adequate security forces have been deployed in the district. I hope people enjoy this festival in a peaceful manner amid adherence to Covid-19 guidelines," added Mohapatra.

Apart from Baliguda, the small town of G Udayagiri in the district is another place that usually witnesses a majestic Christmas every year.

On a subdued Christmas this year in the wake of once-a-century pandemic restrictions, the Pastor of Mallikapodi Baptist Church, Subodh Parichha said, "We are fully prepared with sanitisers and masks. Social distancing protocols will be religiously followed. Though, a lot of things have changed this year. The love for God and the enthusiasm to celebrate Christmas remains the same in us."

Thanking the government for providing with the opportunity to celebrate this during the pandemic, Parichha said, "We have always obeyed the guidelines framed by the government from time to time and let me assure you and the government that we will ensure all the guidelines are adhered to this time too."

It is pertinent to mention here that, religious leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati was killed along with his disciples by a group of 40-odd assailants on August 23, 2008 in Kandhamal district, which had triggered communal riots.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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