Odisha government Friday announced the reopening of Shree Jagannath Temple for devotees from February 1, keeping in view the livelihood of locals and "slight" improvement in the coronavirus situation in the state.
The twelfth-century shrine will, however, remain closed on Sundays for sanitisation, Puri district collector Samarth Verma told reporters after a meeting of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) and members of the Chhatisa Nijog (temple servitors body).
“The local economy is mostly dependent on the temple. This apart keeping in view the sentiments of the people and slight decline in COVID-19 cases, it has been decided to reopen the temple for the public from February 1,” he said.
He said that the temple will be closed on festivals keeping in view the local situation. “The devotees will be allowed entry into the temple from its eastern gate (Lion’s Gate) while the local people of Puri will go inside the shrine through the western gate,” the collector said.
The SJTA had closed the shrine from January 10 till January 31 in view of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state and some servitors and temple employees getting infected by the virus.
Though the shrine was closed to the devotees, routine rituals of the deities were undisturbed. The district collector said a detailed guideline will soon be released for the public darshan in the temple. It will mention the time for darshan and precautions required to be taken for entering the shrine during the pandemic, he said.
Earlier, Shree Jagannath Sena, a local outfit had staged a demonstration in front of the temple demanding the reopening of the shrine. Meanwhile, the Puri district administration has withdrawn an order restricting the last rites of bodies coming from other districts and states to Swargadwar, the crematorium here which is considered holy by Hindus, following the improvement in the COVID situation, official sources said.
With PTI inputs.