Jagannath Temple Reopens for all Today amidst Strict Regulations
Puri’s famed Jagannath Temple, closed for regular visitors and devotees since the onset of the pandemic, is slated to reopen its doors to the general public today. Several crowd control measures have been put in place, amidst a slew of other stringent regulations, to minimise the risk of COVID transmission within its premises. The 12th-century temple had so far only been accessible for the residents of the Puri municipality, its servitors and their families.
Krishan Kumar, who is the Chief Administrator for the Sree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) said that all devotees wishing to enter the temple premises have to mandatorily produce COVID negative certificates. He mentioned that both rapid antigen, as well as the more reliable RT-PCR test, shall be accepted. Such COVID negative test results must be produced within 96 hours from the moment of testing. Besides these measures, wearing of masks and sanitisation of hands has also been made a must.
“Devotees must refrain from touching statues and idols within the temple premises. They can’t bring flowers and lamps inside the temple. They can’t partake of Mahaprasad at the Anand Bazaar or on the temple premises. The devotees can park their vehicles at the Jagannath Ballav Math premises or any designated parking lot,” said the SJTA order.
The temple administration has also issued an advisory asking senior citizens (particularly those above sixty-five years of age), children below ten years and pregnant women to refrain from visiting the temple unless considered absolutely essential, in view of the ongoing pandemic and health concerns. The SJTA expects a footfall of around ten thousand on the first day of reopening of the temple. As per sources, it is likely to provide some relaxation on the COVID test rule in the month of February.