Odisha issues Guidelines for Durga Puja, other upcoming Festivals

Considering the COVID-19 situation in the state, the Odisha Government has published guidelines for the observance of Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja and other festivals during the months of September, October and November. Pradeep Kumar, the Odisha Special Relief Commissioner, declared the new rules following Odisha High Court’s order to establish a set of generic guidelines that would be compulsory for all the pandals and puja committees to follow.

Arguably, two of the most significant announcements include “no public view of the idols of the deities” and “only seven persons allowed at a time in a pandal”. However, there is much more to it. Given below are all the guidelines:

  • For conducting the Puja in Puja Pandals/Mandaps, the organisers shall petition to and obtain the requisite permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorised by him/her. For the area under Commissionerate of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, such license shall be given by the Commissioner of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar or any other officer authorised by him/her.
  • Puja shall be conducted in indoor-like conditions only for practice of rituals without public participation, pomp and grandeur.
  • Puja Pandals/Mandaps shall be closed from three sides. The fourth side shall also be covered in a way not to allow any public view of the idols. There shall be no darshan by public/ devotees.
  • The height of the idol shall be less than 4 feet.
  • There shall be no use of the public address system.
  • At any given point of time, there shall not be more than 7 persons including organisers (Kartas) and priests and support staff present in the Puja Pandal/ Mandap.
  • The persons present at Puja Pandal/Mandap shall follow all COVID protocols of social distancing, use of masks, personal hygiene and sanitation.
  • The organisers and other associated personnel concerned in conducting the Puja shall abide by any additional condition(s) as imposed by Local Administration/ appropriate authority.
  • There shall be no immersion procession. The idols will be immersed in an artificial pond(s) created by the local administration for the purpose.
  • There shall be no musical or any other entertainment programme.
  • Penal provisions: Any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against in accordance with the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Regulations issued thereunder besides legal action under Section 188 of the IPC and other legal provisions as applicable.
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