Action plan sought for reopening of temples in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: Following protests across the State for reopening of temples including Puri Srimandir for devotees, Odisha Government has directed the authorities of all major shrines to prepare an action plan adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

The Government asked the respective collectors to submit the report after consultation with all stakeholders in next 10 days, informed the Chief Secretary today.

Besides, the collectors of all the districts have been asked to consider possibility for reopening of all the religious institutions for devotees in the State.

However, a servitor body of the Lingaraj Temple has opposed the plan for reopening of temples across the State.

“The COVID-19 cases are on rise in Old Town area. The infection may further increase if devotees will be allowed into the Lingaraj Temple. If the servitors will be infected with the virus, the rituals of deities will be disrupted. Although the servitors have been suffering financially due to closure of the temple, the entry of devotees needs to restricted till the normalcy returns,” said Kamalakanta Badu, Secretary of Badu Nijog, Lingaraj Temple, adding “Other temples may not witness record footfall, but it will be tough to handle the crowd at the Jagannath Temple and Lingaraj Temple.”

The religious institutions across the State are closed for devotees for over seven months due to COVID-19 pandemic. Even as the Centre has recommended for reopening of religious institutions in its Unlock plan, Odisha Government is yet to give permission to reopen the temples as well as other religious institutions as crowding may lead to the spread of COVID-19.

Recently, the servitors of Puri Jagannath Temple had launched agitation demanding for reopening of Srimandir for the devotees.

Yesterday, the servitors had staged symbolic protest by playing cymbals for 9 minutes from 9.00 am in front of their respective temples across the State.

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