Covid19: Odisha govt. bans public participation of religious festivals, pujas

Bhubaneswar : Odisha government on Monday issued an order asking the Puja Committees, organisers to conduct puja in indoor like condition for observance of rituals without public participation, pomp and grandeur in the coming festive season due to covid.

The Special Relief Commissioner issued the order following the reports of resurgence of infections in some states as well as in many neighbouring countries.

The festivals of /pujas like Ganesh Puja, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja and pujas of other religious communities fall in August, September, October and November next.

The SRC said since it is not possible to adhere to covid appropriate behaviour during the congregation of people during such pujas it has issued a SOP to be followed during the festival season as it has a potential to spread of virus.

The order banned the congregation for celebration of pujas and associated cultural programmes .

However, religious rituals in churches, temples, mosques and places of worship will continue with limited number of persons with strict adherence to Covid protocols, the SOP said.

For organising the pujas, the organisers would have to take the permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorised for the purpose.

The SOP banned the public darshan and wanted the Puja mandaps to be covered in a way not to allow public view of the idols.

The size of the idols shall be less than four feet and there shall be no use of public address system. At any given time there shall not be more than seven persons including organisers, priests and support staff present at the puja mandap, the order said.

The persons present at the puja mandap shall follow all covid protocols of social distancing , mask use, personal hygiene and sanitation.

There shall be no immersion procession and the idols will be immersed in artificial ponds created by the local administration for the purpose., it said.

The government also banned religious processions of any kind, any religious community and any musical or any other entertainment programme.

The government allowed the Ganesh Puja to be held in educational institutions with a limited number of students observing Covid appropriate behaviour.

Any community feast associated with any puja or festival was disallowed.

The government warned that action would be taken against persons violating these measures as per the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Epidemic disease Act 1897 and Regulations issued there under besides legal action u/s 188 of IPC and other legal provisions as applicable.