The Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri is likely to open its door to devotees by the third week of December, a senior official of the SJTA said on Tuesday. The 12th century shrine is closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was informed by Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Krishan Kumar barely an hour after opposition BJP and Congress MLAs in the Assembly demanded the opening of the Puri temple for public as devotees are denied a glimpse of the trinity (Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath) since March. The SJTA chief administrator said a special Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is being formulated for allowing the devotees to enter the temple. He said the SOP will deal with the conduct of smooth darshan of devotees adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines.
Replying to a question of Lord’s Nagarjuna Besha to be held on Friday, Kumar said a 3-layer security arrangement will be made at the temple during the event. Nobody other than the servitors will be allowed to enter the temple premises. Action will be taken against any kind of violation, he said. This apart, the servitors will not be allowed to carry mobile phones with them inside the temple during Nagarjuna Besha, he said.
Meanwhile, the temple reopening issue was raised in the Assembly by BJP chief whip Mohan Majhi who demanded the immediate opening of the shrine as devotees are denied ‘darshan’ of their deities since March. “When the government of Maharashtra could open temples and places of worship amid the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, why is the Odisha government reluctant in opening Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri,” Maji asked.
Congress Chief Whip Taraprasad Bahinipati with folded hands urged Speaker S N Patro to give a ruling on opening all the temples including Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri. “I urge the Speaker with folded hands to give a ruling on opening of the temples across the state. The closure of temples has adversely affected the livelihood of thousands of servitors across the state,” Bahinipati said. Senior BJD lawmaker Amar Prasad Satpathy said the government is aware of the religious sentiments of the people.