Puri prepares for Reopening of iconic Jagannath Temple

The district administration of Puri is preparing for the possible reopening of the Jagannath Temple after 9 months since it was shut due to the onset of COVID-19. The temple administration will request the state government’s approval to allow the reopening of the shrine from December 23.

An appeal will be put forth for a graded reopening – to allow residents of Puri entry into the temple from December 23 and outsiders from January 3.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, only servitors have been allowed entry into the 12th-century temple.

The administration has begun making arrangements for the smooth inflow and outflow of devotees by setting up barricades outside the temple premises. Meanwhile, sanitation workers have started a cleanliness drive in the outer periphery.

“The district administration is working on finalising the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the smooth regulation of devotees and the darshan system in compliance with the government’s Covid-19 guidelines,” said Krishan Kumar, the chief administrator of the temple.

The SOP will contain details regarding the entry of devotees, whether or not tickets will be issued for entry, the number of people to be allowed inside, places of stay of devotees, documents that visitors need to carry and more.

“We are hopeful that the state government will approve the temple administration’s proposal and allow it to be opened for devotees from December 23. I used to start my day with Jagannath darshan at the temple every morning. I wish I am among the lucky devotees, who get a chance to enter the temple whenever it reopens,” said Jyotsna Tripathy, a resident who stays near the temple.

It will be interesting to see whether the state government allows the reopening of Jagannath Temple during this holiday season – a time when the holy city could see a rise in the number of tourists, making it more difficult to implement COVID guidelines.

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