Odisha Not Yet Ready to Reopen Religious Places

After approximately 400 servitors and officials of the Jagannath temple in Puri tested COVID-19 positive, the Odisha government informed the High Court that it is not yet ready to reopen religious places in the state that have been shut for devotees since March.

The government has pointed out the issue of space in the sanctum sanctorum of the Jagannath Temple in Puri, which increases the chance of spreading the infection if the temple is allowed to open for devotees. This was stated as a reply to a notice issued by the High Court over a PIL. Reports say around 351 temple servitors and 53 officials of the Jagannath temple administration have tested positive for the virus. The servitors include Premananda Dasmohapatra, member of the temple management committee who recently succumbed to the disease.

“A number of Suar, Mahasuar, Daitapatis, and Pujapandas have been infected. Though the rituals of the temple are being done regularly, the situation may worsen if the temple is allowed to open for the public”, remarked a servitor. Due to a spike in the infections, the temple is facing a shortage of servitors to perform various rituals of the Lord. Till now, a total of 9,704 people in Puri district have tested positive for COVID-19.

The officials have decided to assign a dedicated ambulance equipped with a ventilator for the servitors. Meanwhile, two teams will ensure the servitors who have been infected follow the home isolation guidelines effectively.

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