Puri, Aug 23: The famed Jagannath temple in Odisha's Puri reopened for the public on Monday morning after remaining off the bounds for four months due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
People from different parts of the country were seen queuing up to have 'darshan' of the sibling deities -- Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath at the 12th-century shrine, which was shut since April 24. The devotees were allowed to enter the temple from 7 am to 7 pm. The temple will remain closed for the public on the weekends to sanitise the premises, as per a notification by the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA).
Devotees coming from outside Puri are needed to produce complete vaccination certificates or COVID-negative reports obtained through RT-PCR test conducted within 96 hours. The shrine will remain closed on all major festivals, including Janmastami, to avoid gathering, officials said. The annual Ratha Jatra was also held this year in absence of devotees. The devotees are allowed entry into the temple after thermal screening, and wearing masks and maintaining social distance are mandatory, officials said.
Devotees are also not allowed to touch statues and idols inside the temple, and prohibited from having 'prasad' inside the premises, they said. The devotees are required to produce government-issued identity cards such as Aadhaar to enter the temple. The devotees are allowed entry through the 'Singhadwar' (Lion's Gate) and exit through the 'Uttaradwar' (North Gate). The local police made special arrangements for crowd management as the temple reopened after four months.
"Arrangements are now in place for smooth darshan of 30,000 devotees. All are requested to adhere to the COVID-19 protocol," SJTA chief administrator Krishan Kumar said.
Puri's Superintendent of Police Kanwar Vishal Singh said 12 platoons of forces have been deployed in and outside the temple. One platoon has 30 personnel.
A devotee from Pune in Maharashtra said that as he was aware of the guidelines, he and his family members had brought RT-PCR negative reports for entry into the temple.