Odisha allows 'indoor-like' pandals for Durga and other pujas
(Sourced from PTI)
The Odisha government has allowed different puja committees to conduct the Durga, Ganesh, Laxmi, Kali puja, and other similar events on pandals in indoor-like conditions only for observance of rituals without any public participation, an official order said. The order was issued by the Special Relief Commissioner's office and signed by Chief Secretary SC Mohapatra on Monday.
The official order said that the organizers shall apply to obtain the necessary permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorized by him/her. For areas under the Commissionerate of Police, Bhubaneswar, and Cuttack, such permission will be given by the Commissioner of Police or any other officer authorized by him. "Puja pandals/mandaps shall be covered on three sides," the order said.
"The fourth side shall also be covered in a way not to allow any public view of idols. There shall be no darshan by public/devotees," it said, adding that the idol's size shall be less than four feet and a public address system isn't allowed.
"At any given point of time, there shall not be more than seven persons including organizers (kartas) and priests and support staff present in the puja pandal/mandap," the order said. "The persons present at puja pandal/mandap shall follow all COVID-19 protocols of social distancing, mask use, personal hygiene, and sanitation issued by Central/state government/local administration in letter and spirit," it added.
The order, which has been issued to ensure no mass congregation, also said that 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 will be no musical or any other entertainment program during the festivals.
The order said that the Ganesh puja in educational institutions is also allowed with the participation of a limited number of students observing COVID-19 appropriate behavior. No community feast associated with any puja/festival during the period shall be allowed, it said, adding that all the District Magistrates/Municipal Commissioners/Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack shall strictly enforce the above guidelines.
The order said that any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against in accordance with the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, besides legal action under IPC Section 188.