Bhubaneswar: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) Sunday has restricted public entry into the 11th century Lingaraj Temple after four servitors tested positive for coronavirus.
“Keeping in view the detection of substantial number of COVID-19 positive cases among the servitors of the temple as well as the larger public interest, public entry to the Lingaraj Temple has been restricted from Sunday till further orders, the BMC said in a statement, adding, “The move will help to contain the further spread of virus.”
According to sources, about 60 servitors were tested for COVID Saturday and four of them were found to be COVID-19 positive. Meanwhile, the results of the samples of 185 more servitors collected Sunday are awaited. However, the temple will be opened for usual rituals to be conducted by the servitors only
The statement read, “The temple administration will ensure that rituals are conducted by the servitors only. The Ashokastami car festival, famously known as Rukuna Rath Jatra, will be conducted without the mass participation of devotees.”
It may be mentioned here that after remaining closed for almost nine months due to COVID-19 pandemic last year, the temple was reopened for devotees January 6.
Lingaraj Temple is the second most visited temple by devotees in the state after Shree Jagannath Temple, Puri.
The Jagannath Temple is to remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays, while no decision has been taken on the total closure of the temple.
The capital city of Bhubaneswar has been reporting a high number of COVID-19 positive cases for the past one week now. On Sunday, 338 new cases were detected. The total number of active cases in Bhubaneswar stood at 2,527, which is more than 10% of the state’s active cases.