Puri: In a major relief for the thousands of devotees, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration announced Wednesday (August 4) that the 12th century shrine will reopen in stages beginning August 16. After presiding over a meeting of the Chhattisa Nijog, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Chief Administrator Krishan Kumar declared this (apex body of servitors).
“Only Puri town residents will be allowed to go inside the temple for darshan of the Lords for the first five days, from August 16 to August 20,” Krishan Kumar said. He stated that devotees from outside Puri and the state will be permitted to enter the temple beginning August 23, as the temple will be closed for two days on Saturday and Sunday due to the weekend shutdown in Puri town. The temple will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., he said, adding that devotees must show proof of receiving two doses of coronavirus vaccinations or an RT-PCR negative test report from 96 hours ago.
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Aside from the weekend closure, devotees will be barred from entering the temple for two days during the Janmashtami festival on August 30, according to Kumar, who added that the shrine had been closed for about three months due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The temple authority has imposed some basic restrictions, such as the wearing of face masks, the maintenance of social distance both inside and outside the temple, and the avoidance of crowding. An official stated that arrangements have been made for hand sanitization upon entering the temple.
The annual Ratha Jatra and major rituals associated with the festival of the divine trinity- Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath- were observed this time in the absence of devotees due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, nearly all of the major temples and places of worship reopened to the public on Wednesday (August 4) after the state government began the unlocking process on August 1.