Ramakanta Biswas

Bhubaneswar: In what could be a disappointment for thousands of Lord Shiva devotees in the State, the Odisha government on Saturday cancelled the Bol Bom yatra this year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In the holy Odia month of Shravan, people collect water from religious places and walk barefoot for several miles to offer the water to Lord Shiva at the popular shrines dotted across the state. The offering of the water is done on the four Mondays of the month and the devotees undertaking the yatra are generally referred to as 'Bol Bom devotees' or 'kanwariyas.'

A notification issued by the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) said that the above activity will not be permitted in view of the orders of the Government of India and the Government of Odisha as it has extensive potential of spreading the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In the interest of public health, the religious activities and congregations related to Bol Bom Yatra remain prohibited and the Kanwariyas/Bol Bom devotees are not allowed to carry water from any religious places or any other sources and also not allowed to walk on any public road and pour water in any temples/ Shiva temples during the Odia month of Shravan (July/August), 2020, the notification read.

Speaking about the decision at a press meet, SRC Pradeep Jena said, "We are going through a pandemic which has posed a major challenge to public health. Keeping this in view, the State government has prohibited Bol Bom activities this year."

"As people are extending their cooperation for the past three and a half months to fight the coronavirus, we appeal to the people to extend similar support and obey the directive," he added.

The district administration and police will ensure that the directive is implemented properly and there is no deviation, Jena added.

(Edited By Bikram Jena)

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