Devbrat Patnaik

Puri: After almost a nine-month hiatus, the confirmation by Puri district administration on reopening of Jagannath Temple has created an atmosphere of excitement and joy among the devotees across the State. The abode of the Supreme Lord, Puri Srimandir will reopen on December 23, Collector Balwant Singh informed on Friday.

The announcement comes days after the Chattisa Nijog decided to recommend reopening of temple for darshan by devotees from December 23 in a gradual and phased manner.

According to sources, the first two days have been reserved for darshan by temple servitors and their family members. This will be followed by the residents of different wards in Puri town in a phased manner and then gradually devotees from outside would be allowed to get a glimpse of Mahaprabhu Jagannath and His siblings.

"Till 31st December, we have reserved timing slots for darshan by residents of Puri town. I request all of them to plan a visit as per the timings allotted to different wards. The kind of cooperation we received from the locals during Rath Yatra, Nagarjuna Besha and Kartik Purnima is praiseworthy. Once the 12th-century shrine is thrown open for the public, I assure this would be the best darshan and the best experience if devotees abide by social distancing guidelines and other Covid norms in place," said Balwant Singh.

The district Collector further informed that all the religious institutions in Puri will reopen on December 23, 2020. "Local Tehsildars and IICs will hold a meeting in this regard and make necessary arrangements for darshan in prominent temples like Bata Mangala and Lord Alarnath temple. The Sarpanchs and RIs will look after the management of temples in their localities."

As per sources, Covid-19 negative report is likely to be made mandatory for all devotees coming from outside. Masks and other Covid-19 protocols will be strictly enforced. Further, there will be restrictions on diyas and flowers in the temple and a special queue system is also likely to be introduced to regulate the crowd.

SJTA chief administrator Krishan Kumar after the Chhatisha Nijog meeting on December 12 had informed, "There will be no darshan of the deities at Srimandir on January 1 and 2 in view of overcrowding. Darshan will resume from 3rd January and SOP will be issued for the devotees. A maximum of 5000 devotees would be allowed to have darshan of the Holy Trinity at Srimandir from January 3. Use of masks and sanitiser will be made mandatory for the devotees. Sanitiser will also be provided at the four entrances of Srimandir."

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