Puri: The chances of reopening Srimandir for the devotees in the month of November are said to be slim even though the state government has authorised local administrations to take a call on easing restrictions on people’s entry to shrines under the Unlock 6.0 guidelines.
It is learnt that Srimandir authorities are reluctant to reopen the 12th century shrine before the Nagarjuna Besha of Lord Jagannath which would be held November 27.
A majority of Srimandir servitors had opposed the reopening of the shrine for devotees in the Hindu month of Kartika. They had urged the temple authorities to take a decision on the issue after the performance of Nagarjuna Besha ritual, sources said.
Srimandir, the abode of Lord Jagannath, has been shut for devotees since March 20 this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, all the routine as well as the special rituals of the shrine are being performed by the servitors without any interruption.
Srimandir chief administrator Krishan Kumar recently held discussions with the servitors on issues related to the reopening of the shrine. Most of the servitors had suggested that the temple should not be reopened for people before Nagarjuna Besha ritual.
It was then argued that at least 500 Srimandir servitors and employees have been infected with the novel coronavirus and reopening of the shrine would only aggravate the situation.
Moreover, Srimandir sub-committee on rituals and Chhatisha Niyog, the apex body of servitors, have recently decided that people would not be allowed to witness Nagarjuna Besha of Lord Jagannath.
Many devotees, meanwhile, welcomed the Unlock 6.0 guidelines of the state government and urged the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) to reopen the shrine.
“Devotees have been deprived of visiting Srimandir for last seven months. Now, the SJTA should allow people to enter the temple in strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines,” said Santosh Sahu, a devotee.
Senior Daitapati servitor Binayak Dasmahapatra, however, said that the SJTA should take a call on the issue only after the completion of Hindu month of Kartika.
“The experts have warned that Covid-19 infection would go northward in the winter. We should be more cautious to keep the virus at bay. The SJTA should take a decision on the issue after the performance of Nagarjuna Besha ritual,” Dasmahapatra added.