Bhubaneswar: After remaining closed for more than three months in the backdrop of surging Covid-19 cases in Odisha, the Srimandir in Puri will reopen for devotees from August 16 with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols. The decision to reopen the shrine was taken at a meeting attended by officials Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), Chatisa Nijog and district administration Wednesday evening.
The darshan of the sibling deities – Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath will begin 7.00am and continue till 8.00pm amid. Only residents of Puri town will be allowed to visit the temple August 16 to 20. Then for the next two days, the temple will remain closed due to the weekend shutdown in Puri district. From August 23, devotees from all parts of India will be allowed to enter the temple, SJTA chief administrator Krishan Kumar told reporters.
All visitors must carry RT-PCR negative reports obtained 96 hours before entry or the final vaccination certificate, Kumar said. Devotees should also have identity proof and wear masks while entering the temple. They will also have to sanitise their hands.
Kumar also said devotees will not be allowed to have ‘Mahaprasad’ on the temple premises. Offerings of flowers, tulsi (basil leaves) and similar items will not be allowed inside the temple as per the government’s guidelines for the month of August. He added that the temple will remain closed for the public on the occasion of Janmashtami (August 30).
Kumar also informed that all servitors, officials of the SJTA and district administration who took part in the Rath Yatra festival will have to undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing once more beginning August 8. A door-to-door campaign will also be launched to ensure that servitors and their families get both doses of vaccination, he added.