Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: After the Odisha government's nod to open Puri Jagannath and Lingaraj temple amid the pandemic with strict adherence to COVID-19 norms, hopes are high that around 18000 remaining temples in the State will also be opened soon.

As the State government has already left the responsibility of taking decision regarding opening of the places of worship for the public of all religious faiths at the discretion of district and local authorities, reports are there that temple management committees have already started discussions with concerned district administrations.

"We have started discussions with the stakeholders over opening of the religious places as the government has given power to district authorities to take decision in this regard. We are looking into the possibilities to open such places and will take a decision soon," said Gyan Das, Bhadrak collector.

In a related development, Kendrapara district administration on Wednesday announced to reopen the famous Baladevjew temple from January 3, 2021, amid strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines.

Collector Samarth Verma informed that no more than 100 people will be allowed to enter the shrine after it reopens.

Meanwhile, the Endowment Commission on Monday fixed modalities to reopen the 18,000 temples under its jurisdiction. The modalities emphasised on ‘darshan’ at temples by devotees with strict adherence to all standard COVID-19 guidelines.

Details of the Modalities

(i) Entry and exit to and from the temple shall be in conformity with Special Covid-19 guidelines that may be formulated by the State government for the purpose.

(ii)The number of devotees and sebayats shall not exceed five at a time inside the temple under no circumstance.

(iii) The devotees and sebayats shall be sanitised during their entry into the temple.

(iv) Using of mask by the devotees and sebayats should be made compulsory.

(v) The period of stay of devotees inside the temple should be very short.

(vi) The Special rituals be performed with the congregation not exceeding five.

(vii) Social distancing should be strictly adhered to among the devotees and servitors

(viii) The Trust Board/Person in management should allow limited servitors to perform the rituals and sebapuja

(ix) The temple premises should be sanitised at short periodical interval. There should be no entry of the devotees into the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple.

(x) There should not be any Prasad Seban by the devotees or feast numbering more than twenty.

(xi) The Trust Board /Person in management shall ensure the adherence of above modalities by the devotees and sebayats and take disciplinary action against the servitors for violating the above modalities and against the devotees by lodging FIR.

(xii) There should be one entry and one exit point. All other points of entry shall remain closed.