After 400 priests of Jagannath temple test Covid-19+, Odisha says no to opening religious places
Replying to a notice issued by the Orissa High Court over a PIL, the state government said as the sanctum sanctorum of the Jagannath Temple in Puri does not have enough space, there are chances of spread of infection if the temple is allowed to open for devotees.Updated: Sep 29, 2020, 00:23 IST
With more than 400 servitors and officials of the Jagannath temple in Puri testing positive for Covid-19, the Odisha government has told the High Court that it is not yet ready to open religious places in the state which have been shut for devotees since March.
Replying to a notice issued by the Orissa High Court over a PIL, the state government said as the sanctum sanctorum of the Jagannath Temple in Puri does not have enough space, there are chances of spread of infection if the temple is allowed to open for devotees. The state government in its affidavit said 351 temple servitors and 53 officials of the Jagannath temple administration have tested positive for Covid-19. Several servitors including Premananda Dasmohapatra, member of the temple management committee recently succumbed to the disease.
As more and more servitors are testing positive for Covid-19, it has led to a shortage of servitors to perform various rituals of the Lord. “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,” said a servitor. So far, a total of 9,704 people in Puri district have tested positive for Covid-19.
Officials said a dedicated ambulance equipped with a ventilator will be provided for the servitors while two teams will ensure that servitors who have been infected follow the home isolation guidelines effectively. The Puri district administration will strictly enforce the Covid-19 guidelines by making masks compulsory for anyone seen within the vicinity of the temple.
Temple officials said the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to cast its shadow on the Nagarjuna Besha of Lord Jagannath scheduled to be held in November this year. The Nagarjuna Besha of Lord Jagannath will happen after a gap of 26 years.