Jagannath temple reopens for all devotees
Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri reopened for all devotees on Sunday after remaining closed for nine months due to the pandemic. However, Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal preferred to have darshan of the deities from outside as he did not have the mandatory COVID-19 negative report. The temple remained closed on January 1 and 2 and reopened for all devotees from Sunday.
The Governor returned to state capital after having darshan
"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) as they did not have the COVID-19 negative report," a senior official accompanying Lal said.
Lal volunteered not to go inside the temple
"There was no restriction on the entry of the Governor, who was welcomed by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and Puri district administration," a senior official said. "However 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," the official added.
About 17,000 devotees visited the temple on 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 have implemented a number of guidelines for the devotees, asking them to mandatorily wear face masks, sanitize hands, maintain physical distance at all times, not to touch idols inside the temple, among others.
Guidelines implemented by the SJTA and the Puri district administration
Devotees were also prohibited from carrying any offerings like flowers/earthen lamps inside the temple. The devotees can't take mahaprasad (bhog) inside Ananda Bazar and temple premises either. Chewing of tobacco/paan and spitting inside temple premises are also strictly prohibited. The devotees have to enter the temple through a queue system and are required to produce their photo ID card like Aadhaar/Voter ID.
The shrine reopened in a phased manner from December 23
The 12th-century shrine started its reopening process 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.