Puri: In a major relief for the lakhs of devotees, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration Wednesday (August 4) announced that the 12th century shrine will reopen in a phased manner from August 16. This was declared by Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Chief Administrator Krishan Kumar after presiding over a meeting of the Chhattisa Nijog (apex body of servitors).
“For the first five days from August 16 to August 20, only the residents of Puri town will be allowed to go inside the temple for darshan of the Lords,” Krishan Kumar said. He said, the devotees from outside Puri and the state will be allowed entry from August 23 as the temple will remain closed for two days on Saturday and Sunday due to the weekend shutdown in the Puri town. The temple will remain open from 7 am to 8 pm, he said adding that the devotees have to produce the document of taking two doses of coronavirus vaccinations or the RT-PCR negative test report conducted 96 hours ago.
Apart from the weekend shutdown, devotees will not be allowed to enter the temple for two-days during the Janmashtami festival on August 30, Kumar said, adding that the shrine remain closed for about three months in wake of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The temple authority has fixed some basic restrictions like wearing face masks, maintaining social distancing both inside and outside temple and not making crowding. The arrangements have been made for hand sanitization while entering into the temple, an official said.
The divine trinity- Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath’s annual Ratha Jatra and major rituals associated with the festival were this time observed in absence of devotees due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, almost all the major temples and places of worships opened for the public from Wednesday (August 4) after the state government started unlock process from August 1.