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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Even as the Odisha government has clarified its stand on the reopening of religious places amid the prevailing pandemic situation, members of the Odisha Sevayat Sangha, a state-level priests’ association once again staged protest by beating gongs in the premises of the Ram Temple here today to press for the opening of temples.

The protesters said that the closure of temples has taken away the livelihood of thousands of priests working across the State. They demanded financial assistance of Rs 20,000 per month if the government did not allow the temples to reopen.

“Our temple priests eke out their living by doing rituals for the devotees. Temples and religious places have already reopened in other States, but only Odisha is an exception. If the government wants to keep the temples closed, it should provide financial assistance to their family for maintenance,” said a member of the Odisha Sevayat Sangha.

On the other hand, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) argued against the possibilities of reopening of temples. BMC Commissioner Premchandra Choudhury said a decision in this regard will be taken after assessing the status of Covid-19 spread.

“We are taking feedbacks from health experts regarding the do’s and don’t owing to the current pandemic status. As of now, we have not taken any decision. Hence, the religious places will remain closed till further decision. We will decide further on the matter once we ensure foolproof arrangements against the pandemic”, he added.

Earlier in October, the servitors of various temples had pressed for the reopening of temples and religious places across the State by blowing conch shell and beating gongs. They had argued that when shopping malls, liquor shops are opened and political congregations are taken place following the unlocking process, why the priests have been prevented from resuming their work. However, the Sri Jagannath Temple servitors in Puri didn’t extend their support to the association.

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