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Palm leaf umbrella for Prez at Jagannath Temple

Bhubaneswar: With the mercury soaring above 40 degree celsius at Puri, an umbrella made of palm leaves provided by the Sri Jagannath Temple will be given for use by President Pranab Mukherjee when he visits the 12th century shrine on April 25.

"Though the VVIP is supposed to use a white umbrella, it cannot be allowed in the temple premises due to traditional restrictions," said Arvind Padhee, the Revenue Divisional commissioner (Central Range) and chief administrator of the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA).

"According to existing rules and tradition of the temple, no one is allowed to carry arms or umbrellas inside as the Lord is considered supreme," Padhee said.

"Since the President will reach the temple in the afternoon, we will arrange an umbrella made of palm leaves for him," he said.

"As the President will be in the temple premises during the peak of summer, certain arrangements will be made for his comfort," said Laxmidhar Pujapanda, the spokesman of SJTA.

The stone floor of the temple covering 37,000 square metre could be very hot and the President would have to go inside barefoot after arriving at 12.50 pm for a 'darshan' of Lord Jagannath.

"The final decision will be taken at a meeting of the 36-Nijogs (36 priests) tomorrow," Pujapanda said.

As a part of the President's security, the district administration has decided to close the four entry and exit doors of the temple for nearly half an hour before the President's arrival.

"The shrine complex will be completely sanitised and only a few priests will be allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum," Superintendent of Police Anup Kumar Sahoo said.

No vehicle will be allowed on the Grand Road till the President leaves the temple.

Similar arrangements were also made during the visit of former president Pratibha Patil on December 9, 2009.

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