Pujas to be held without devotees this festive season in Odisha; SRC issues guidelines

Bhubaneswar: In view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, the Odisha Government has decided that all pujas during the festive season of this year will be held in the state without the congregation of devotees. The Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) today issued guidelines in this regard.

“It is hereby directed that congregations for celebration of Ganesh Puja, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja and other similar festivals shall not be allowed in public throughout the State. However, religious rituals in churches/ temples/ mosques/ places of worship will continue as usual with a limited number of persons with strict adherence to Covid protocols,” an official notification of the SRC said.

The citizens are allowed to observe the said pujas/ festivals in their premises without causing any congregation at any place and maintaining all safety protocols, such as social distancing, wearing masks, proper sanitisation, etc.

The puja committees/ organisers in rural and urban areas are allowed to conduct puja at mandaps/ pandals as per the following instructions:

* For conducting Puja in Puja Pandals/ Mandaps, the organizers shall apply to and obtain necessary 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 permission shall be given by the Commissioner of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar or any other officer authorised by him/her.

* Puja(s) shall be conducted in indoor-like condition only for observance of rituals without public participation, pomp and grandeur.

* Puja Pandals/ Mandaps shall be covered on three sides. The 4th 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 size of the idol shall be less than 4 feet.

* There shall be no use of public address systems.

* At any given point of time, there shall not be more than 7 persons including organisers (Kartas) and priests and support staff present at the Puja Pandal/ Mandap.

* The persons present at Puja Pandal/ Mandap shall follow all Covid protocols of social distancing, mask usage, personal hygiene and sanitation issued by Central State Government/ Local Administration in letter and spirit.

* The organizers and other persons involved in conducting the Puja shall abide by any other condition(s) as imposed by Local Administration/ appropriate authority.

* There shall be no immersion procession. The idols will be immersed in artificial pond(s) created by the local administration for the purpose.

* There shall be no religious procession of any kind of any religious community.

* There shall be no musical or any other entertainment programme.

* Ganesh puja in educational institutions is allowed with participation of a limited number of students observing COVID appropriate behavior.

* No community feast associated with any puja/ festival during the period shall be allowed.

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