Keeping in view the significant improvement in the corona situation across Odisha, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Saturday announced its decision to further relax restrictions on entry of devotees into the 12th century shrine here. The temple will remain open even on Sundays from March 20, said Puri district magistrate cum collector Samarth Verma, who is also the deputy chief administrator of the SJTA.
He said the decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the Chhatisa Nijog, the apex body of servitors. He said the devotees will be able to pay obeisance to deities from the time of opening of Singhadwara (Lion’s gate) in the early morning till pahada’ (closure of the door) every day. Earlier, the SJTA had ordered closure of the temple for public on Sundays for sake of sanitization, He said now the sanitization will be done during the night and not by closing the temple.
The SJTA functionary, however, said that though the restrictions on devotees has been withdrawn, visitors need to follow the Covid appropriate behavior such as wearing of masks, maintaining of social distance and hand sanitization.The Chhatisa Nijog’s meeting was held on Saturday to finalise ritual timings associated with the Dola Purnima’ and changes in SOP for the public darshan.
Verma said a niti (ritual) sub-committee will be formed to ensure there is no delay in the temple rituals.The 12th-century shrine was opened for the public on February 21, after remaining closed for almost 21 days due to a spike in COVID cases during the third wave in January, with strict adherence to COVID protocols from 6 am to 9 pm (Monday to Saturday).
Later with opening of the temple, the devotees were allowed to enter the temple without double vaccination certificates or RT-PCR COVID-negative reports from February 21. However, all such restrictions have been withdrawn except the mandatory mask wearing, maitaining social distancing and hand sanitization, the official said.
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