Sri Jagannath temple Administration today decided to close the temple for devotees till May 15 from today to protect the servitors from covid infection. The Jagannath temple was closed for the devotees on March 25 last year and opened for the devotees in December last after almost being closed for nine months in the first phase of covid amidst lockdown and shut down imposed by the government to contain the spread of the virus. The devotees were allowed to enter the temple by producing either RT-PCR negative or final vaccination certificate.
Recently, the temple administration decided to close the temple for the devotees on every Saturday and Sunday in view of rising covid cases in the pilgrim city Chief Temple Administrator Krishna Kumar decided to close the temple in an unanimously taken emergency meeting held through video conferencing today. However, the nitees and rituals of the deities would continue as usual.
Elaborating details in a release Dr. Kumar said the steady increase in corona graph in the district and in town is a potential threat to the health of temple servitors . So it has become necessary to protect servitors from getting infected with corona virus.
The servitors are performing daily nitees and rituals of the Trinity as per tradition. If they were infected it would be difficult to continue the nitees of the deities. The Servitors, Mr. Kumar said are in a high risk category as they are interacting with hundreds of devotees daily and susceptible to virus infection.
In addition to it two outdoor festivals like Chandan Yatra and the ceremony for construction of three chariots for annual Rath Yatra are scheduled for May 15. Mr. Kumar said since the month long Chandan Yatra would commence from Akshyay Tritiya day and construction of three chariots would also begin on this auspicious day, it is important to ensure their good health.
He said assessment of the health status of servitors and their families would be conducted on a regular basis. Thermal screening and RT-PCR test of servitors, temple employees and carpenters would be taken up soon. Servitors performing seva-puja of deities, carpenters to be engaged in construction of chariots and temple officials would be vaccinated.
He said in addition to it a mass awareness campaign would be conducted among the servitor community to use masks, sanitisers and keep physical distance. The arrangements for treatment of servitors in Covid care centre dedicated for servitors running from Niladri Bhakt Niwas would be strengthened.
Temple Administrator A K Jena has been designated as Nodal officer to coordinate with Bhubaneswar based Covid hospitals for hassle free shifting of servitors who require specialised emergency corona care. The Temple administration would soon procure face masks, sanitisers to be distributed among servitors, carpenters and temple officials associated with the Rath construction.
As many as 395 new corona positive cases were reported from the district today as against 306 cases on the previous day.