Lord Jagannath Temple reopens, public 'darshan' from January 3
The Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri, which closed in the middle of March in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, reopened for devotees on Wednesday. The much-awaited darshan of the sibling deities - Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath, began at 7 am amid strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines for servitors and their family members only, officials said.
For the first time in the history of the 12th century Lord Vishnu shrine, the devotees were denied the opportunity of darshan, officials said. "It was a matter of luck for any human being to have darshan of the deities in Jagannath Dham. We are blessed to get the opportunity in the first phase," said an elderly woman after visiting the temple.
On the first three days, servitors and their family members will be allowed to enter the temple with strict adherence to COVID-19 norms, Puri Collector Balwant Singh told reporters. Puri residents can enter the temple from December 26 till December 31 evening. Devotees will be allowed entry into the temple after proper identity check, hand sanitization, and mandatory wearing of masks.
The temple will remain closed on January 1 and 2 to avoid the New Year rush and will open again on January 3 for all. The district administration has prepared a ward-wise schedule for the people of Puri for the darshan of the deities. The residents of each ward have been given specific dates and times for the same.
From January 3, the doors will open to devotees from outside Puri as well and all devotees need to produce a COVID-19 negative report. Asked why the people of Puri do not need a COVID-19 negative certificate, the official said, "The administration is aware of the coronavirus status of the local people". No offerings of flowers, tulsi, and other such items will be allowed.
As per Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prepared for the smooth darshan of devotees, people would enter through Singhadwara (Lions Gate) of the Temple and exit through any of the other three gates. Barricades have been raised along the Badadanda from Marichikot Chhak in nine rows. Visitors will be required to follow protocols like maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask, and sanitizing their hands.