Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri reopened for all devotees on Sunday after remaining closed for nine months due to the pandemic even as Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal preferred to have darshan of the deities from outside for not having the mandatory COVID-19 negative report for entry into the shrine.
The governor, along with his family members and some staff, had to return to the state capital after having darshan of “Patitapaban” (the symbolic image of lord Jagannath seen from outside the temple) as they did not have the COVID-19 negative report, a senior official accompanying Lal told PTI.
Though there was no restriction on the entry of the governor, who was welcomed by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and Puri district administration, Lal volunteered not to go inside on his own after he came to know that all the devotees have to submit their COVID-19 negative report before entering the temple, a senior official said.
The governor said: “I came here to pay obeisance to the Lord. We prayed for the wellbeing of all the people of Odisha seeking the almighty’s blessings for 2021.”
The 12th century shrine started its reopening process in a phased manner from December 23. The servitors and their family members were allowed to enter the temple from December 23 till December 25, followed by local residents of Puri in the second phase from December 26 to December 31 evening.
The temple remained closed on January 1 and 2 and reopened for all devotees from across the country from Sunday.
About 17,000 devotees visited the temple on Sunday after producing COVID-19 negative reports done within 96 hours and adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines.
The SJTA and the Puri district administration has implemented a number of guidelines for the devotees asking them to mandatorily wear face mask, sanitise hands, maintain physical distance at all times, not to touch statues or idols inside the temple.
This apart, it also prohibited devotees from carrying any offerings like flowers/earthern lamp inside the temple.
There will be big containers placed at the entrance, where such items can be dropped if being carried by the devotees, it said.
The devotees also cannot take mahaprasad (bhog) inside Ananda Bazar and temple premises while chewing of tobacco/paan and spitting inside temple premises is strictly prohibited.
The devotees enter the temple through a queue system and are required to produce their photo ID card like Aadhaar/Voter ID. They have to leave their belongings at the designated place outside the temple. The devotees will enter into the shine through Lions Gate and exit through the north gate.
Meanwhile, the administration in Bhubaneswar allowed the residents of the Capital city to enter Shree Lingaraj Shrine by adhering to the COVID-19 protocol.
Many temples in the state capital and in other parts of the state also reopened for devotees.