Baripada: Visit of lakhs of devotees for the annual Badapuja festival at the famous Hingula shrine Saturday at Kaudikhani under Badasahi block in Mayurbhanj district in violation of Covid norms and prohibitory orders for panchayat polls has sparked fear on further spread of Covid-19.
The festival is annually held at a Sal jungle near Kaudikhani where the deity is worshipped under a conjoined tree of banyan and ‘sahada’ trees inside the forest. The deity is highly revered as a living goddess in North Odisha as she is believed to save people from fire mishaps and fulfill the wishes of devotees.
Reports said that devotees from Mayurbhanj, Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur districts and as far as Jharkhand and West Bengal visited the shrine. The district administration had clamped prohibitory order under Section-144 for Covid-19 and the panchayat elections to discourage devotees from assembling at the shrine for the festival.
The day temperature had risen in the area during last three days but lakhs of devotees thronged the shrine with a favourable weather prevailing Saturday. Sources said that over 5 lakh devotees offered their pujas and participated in the rituals at the shrine. The local administration had prevented establishment of makeshift shops around the shrine but no crowd control measures by the police were to be found.