Puri resident files PIL in Orissa High Court, seeks reopening of Jagannath Temple
In both the PILs, the petitioners have said that closure of the temples had created immense hardships to all servitors across the state.Updated: Aug 03, 2020 21:07 IST
More than four months after it was shut due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a public interest litigation was filed in the Orissa High Court on Monday seeking reopening of the 12th century Jagannath Temple in Puri for devotees.
In his PIL, Trilochan Rath, a resident of Puri argued if malls and other commercial establishments can be allowed to open up, why should temples remain closed for devotees. “The temple can be opened while maintaining social distance and wearing masks,” he said.
Rath prayed that along with Puri’s Jagannath Temple, all temples in Odisha should be opened for devotees to offer prayers. In another PIL, 15 servitors of ‘Maa Mangala’ shrine at Kakatpur area of Puri too approached the Orissa High Court seeking opening of the temple and demanded financial assistance of Rs 5,000 for the temple servitors.
In both the PILs, the petitioners have said that closure of the temples had created immense hardships to all servitors across the state. “The servitors usually depend on the devotees to eke out their living. They earn by providing services to the devotees. With no devotees being allowed to visit the temple, the servitors are left with no income,” said the PIL.
Jagannath Temple, the most popular religious shrine in Odisha, has been shut for devotees since March 20 just before the lockdown started. The Rath Yatra festival in June was held without the presence of common devotees with temple servitors pulling the three wooden chariots after the Supreme Court passed an order. Though the Centre allowed opening of the temple, an ASI-protected monument in June, Odisha has preferred to keep it closed apprehensive of the rise in Covid-19 cases once devotees start thronging to it.
In its latest order issued on July 31, the Odisha government allowed gyms and shopping malls to open with certain SOPs, but said religious places would continue to be shut.