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Sharmili Mallick

Puri: The Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri reopened from today after more than nine months. The Srimandir was closed since March 20 owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent nationwide lockdown.

Only the servitors and their families will be allowed darshan today and the next two days. The residents of Puri town will get the chance to visit the temple from December 26 to 31.

The Puri district administration and the Shree Jagannath Temple Committee (SJTA) have made elaborate arrangements to ensure devotees adhere to all the Covid-19 safety protocols strictly amid the ongoing pandemic situation.

The visitors are being allowed inside the 12th-century shrine from the Singhadwar gate only. The door of the sanctum sanctorum was opened at 4.59 am following which Mangal Alati, Mailam, Tadaplagi, Abakash Niti were performed while the  Ghodalagi rituals were underway, as per the latest reports.

"I am speechless after having a glimpse of the Lords after a long nine months. The deities looked beautiful," said a woman of a servitor family of Srimandir.

"I was always praying the Lords to open the temple as soon as possible. After having the darshan of Lord Jagannath today, I feel complete and emotional. I hope the pandemic will end soon," said another devotee.

The administration has made identity card mandatory for servitors as well as Puri residents to get permission to enter the shrine. Families of servitors have been asked to carry the health insurance card. In case of unavailability of the health card, they can furnish other identity cards to gain entry.

Similarly, token system has been introduced for Puri residents to streamline the darshan system. Puri Municipality will visit each ward and issue token in the name of head of the family. The district administration will decide the timing of visit of the ward residents. Locals have been asked to visit the temple only during the permitted time slot.

The Puri residents will be allowed entry from the barricade at Market Square after they produce their tokens. Later, they will have to produce their Aadhaar card or voter card.

A negative test report for Covid-19 has been made mandatory for general darshan which will commence on January 3. In view of the pandemic, entry of children below the age of 10 years and elderly persons above the age of 65 have been prohibited.

Ballav bhog will be offered to the deities from January 3 and darshan will be allowed in night too.

(Edited By Rashmi Ranjan Mohanty)


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