Bhubaneswar, Mar 19 : In a major decision, the Sri Jagannath temple Administration(SJTA) today decided to ban the entry of devotees to the 12th-century shrine from tomorrow. The Odisha Government had issued an advisory to all religious institutions across the state yesterday to strictly adhere to the Corona Virus prevention norms. In case any religious institution is not able to maintain the precautions for Corona Virus the religious body was advised to immediately restrict the entry of pilgrims while continuing with the rituals.
The institutions should immediately take a conscious decision to protect the pilgrims, priests, sevayats and other security personnel involved, the advisory said. The decision to ban the entry of devotees and the visitors to the Jagannath temple in Puri was taken as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus. SJTA Chief Administrator Krishnan Kumar said the ban would come into force from tomorrow morning and would continue till March 31 next.
Mr Kumar, however, said the daily rituals of the temple would continue as usual and only the Servitors would go inside the temple to perform the day to day rituals. He said a guideline would be issued in this regard after a discussion with the Sevayats. Mr Kumar said after reviewing the situation a decision would be taken whether the ban order would be extended further or not. Mr Binayak Mohapatra, a senior Sevayat welcomed the move of the SJTA stating that the right decision has been taken at the right time. Three days ago, the government had asked the visitors and tourists to leave Puri. Thousands of people from different parts of the country and abroad visit Puri daily to have Darshana of the Lord Jagannath, His brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra. In view of the serious situation prevailing in the country in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, churches in Odisha also decided to suspend all activities temporarily to help combat the dreaded infection.
The Odia Baptist Church at Cuttack, one of the largest churches in Odisha, as also the Church of Christ (Union Church) in Bhubaneswar has put on hold all their activities including the Sunday worship till March 31 next. The Odia Baptist Church (CNI) in Berhampur, Baptist Church at Khurdaand Baptist Church at Jatni have also taken a similar decision. Mr Lal Mohan Roul, president of the Odia Baptist Church, Cuttack, said the church had taken the decision keeping in view the need of the hour. “We can feel the seriousness of the situation and extend our full cooperation to the administration,” he said.
“The focus has been the government’s appeal to practicing social distancing which is the key to keep the Corona Virus at bay. But in a church worship situation, hundreds of people assemble at a fixed time of the day to pray and worship. In such a situation it is difficult to ensure social distancing,” said a spokesman for Church of Christ (Union Church). “The Church Board, in consultation with other stakeholders, decided to suspend all activities till March 31 after which the decision will be reviewed, he said adding the step had been taken in view of the unprecedented situation. The Lok Seva Bhawan, the state Secretariat also decided not to issue any visitors pass to people as a precautionary measure. (UNI)