Vikash Sharma

Puri: In what could end the nine-months long of painful wait for devotees to witness Lord Jagannath, the abode of the supreme lord, Srimandir may soon reopen its gates for people between December 22 and 24.

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) will soon recommend the Odisha government for reopening of the ancient shrine which has been out of bounds for devotees in the wake of Covid pandemic.

Informing the development after a high-level meeting of the Chhatisa Nijog, the SJTA chief Administrator Krishan Kumar on Saturday informed that a formal recommendation will be moved in this regard for necessary approvals from the State government in the next two days.

However, the Jagannath Temple in Puri will reopen only after getting permission from the Odisha government. Once the temple reopens, COVID-19 protocols will be strictly implemented for the devotees visiting the 12th century shrine, said the SJTA chief.

“Though we have not exactly decided the dates, we hope that the temple will reopen between December 22 and 24. The dates for reopening of the temple will be subsequently announced by the administration,” said Krishan Kumar.

The residents of Puri will be allowed to have a darshan of the sibling deities on the first basis after the Srimandir reopens for four to five days in a row. However, the general darshan of the Holy Trinity will be barred for devotees on January 1 and 2, 2021 keeping in view the heavy rush which is usually witnessed every year during New Year.

As per plans, the general darshan by devotees will be allowed at Puri Jagannath temple from January 3, 2021 and a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) will be issued soon, the SJTA chief added.

Efforts are underway to ensure that a maximum of 5,000 devotees will be allowed inside the temple per day after January 3, 2021. The number of devotees will be increased in subsequent months. 

The SJTA will take necessary steps for sanitising all the four gates of the temple. Masks and sanitisers will be mandatory for the devotees coming to the temple for darshan of the deities.

The SJTA will urge devotees like elderly persons above 65 years of age and children not to visit the temple in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the administration, devotees from other districts will have to furnish Covid-19 negative report in order to gain entry into the shrine.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)