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Unlock 6.0: Will Temples & Religious Institutions Re-open In Odisha? Here’s All You Need To Know

Bhubaneswar: Its over six months since all religious institutions across Odisha remain out of the bounds for the devotees owing to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. However, the release of Unlock 6.0 guidelines by the Odisha government on Saturday has kindled hopes among devotees for removal of the restrictions.

As per the fresh Unlock 6.0 guidelines issued today, “District magistrates and municipal commissioners may permit public worship in religious places with appropriate restrictions, based on local assessment of the situation with regard to spread of COVID-19 and in due consultation with stakeholders, with observance of COVID-19 safety protocol.”

Following such directives by the State government now all eyes are set on the respective district administrations and municipal commissioners over the reopening of the places of worship, an issue every political party in the state has tried to fish in to its advantage.

The devotees are anxiously waiting for the Jagannath temple in Puri to reopen as the much-awaited Nagarjuna Besha of the deities is scheduled to be held on November 27. Earlier, the devotees were not able to participate in the annual Rath Yatra this year following a Supreme Court order in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

Senior servitor at the Jagannath temple, Binayak Das Mohapatra said that the Odisha government should take an appropriate decision after reviewing all aspects while keeping in mind the upcoming Nagarjuna Besha of the Lord next month.

It is pertinent to mention here that Sevayats at several temples across Odisha had launched a campaign, beating gongs and blowing conchs, in front of the shrines as a mark of protest against the State Government’s decision to keep religious institutions closed in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

“Under no circumstances, Puri Jagannath temple can be compared with any other temple. We had earlier demanded for the reopening of temples as servitors were facing hardships. But later everybody got panicked when over many servitors got infected with COVID-19,” said Das Mohapatra.

According to Mohapatra, leaving aside the Jagannath temple in Puri other temples in the State should be allowed to reopen.

“Only after the Kartik month and completion of Nagarjuna Besha, the district administration should take appropriate decision on the reopening of Jagannath temple,” Mohapatra added.

Earlier the Puri district administration had urged Habishyalis not to visit the pilgrim town during the holy month of Kartik in view of the COVID-19 pandemic situation.

While talking to reporters, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner, Prem Chandra Chaudhary today stated, “The State government has released unlock 6.0 guidelines today. We will take feedback from various people and other stakeholders and take the appropriate decision soon.”

Chaudhary further stated that even though the daily COVID-19 caseload has come down between 75 to 100, “We are careful about the situation. No decision on reopening of temples has been taken so far,” he added.

“We are not going to allow reopening of temples/ religious shrines without prior consultations with the stakeholders and necessary clearances from the health department,” Chaudhary added.

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