Vikash Sharma

Bhubaneswar: The auspicious nine-day Navratri festivities is being observed at major religious shrines and various Shakti pithas across Odisha amidst the COVID-19 restrictions.

Most of the shrines and mandaps are now reverberating with chanting of shlokas and other mantras. Special rituals are being performed to pay obeisance to the Goddess who is worshiped in various forms across the State.

However, restrictions have been clamped on the entry of devotees in view of the COVID-19 pandemic situation. This has not come on the way of the observance of traditional rituals at such religious institutions across the State.

The preparations for Durga puja has reached almost the final stages in Cuttack where the celebrations are held in a grand manner. The making of idol at Firingi Bazar Puja Committee, one of the oldest puja mandaps, has reached its last leg.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Orissa High Court yesterday had granted permission to 9 puja committees including the Firingi Bazar Puja Committee to make idols taller than the specified 4ft height as capped by the Odisha government in view of COVID-19 pandemic situation.

“It was not a battle but a controversy had erupted over the conduct of Puja. However, we are satisfied with the court’s verdict,” said Naresh Sahu, Secretary of Firingi Bazar Puja Committee.

Sahu further stated that all the COVID-19 protocols will be duly followed and the immersion ceremony conducted with assistance from district administration as per Court’s direction.

Apart from Cuttack, special puja is also being performed at Ramchandi Pitha (temple) in Puri district. As per tradition, Goddess Durga is worshiped here in the ‘Mahisa Mardini’ avatar and special rituals are held from Mulasthami to Mahaasthami.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, devotees are not allowed inside the shrine.

“Temples are yet to reopen. Despite this we have come to the shrine to pray to the Goddess,” said a devotee.

Also Read: Orissa HC Nod For 9 Durga Puja Committees For Taller Idols

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