SAMBALPUR: The Samaleswari Temple Trust Board met here on Monday evening but failed to zero in on a date for re-opening of the 16th century shrine which has been closed for devotees since March 23 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two days after the Chhatisha Nijoga recommended re-opening of Puri Sri Jagannath Temple, the Trust board of Samaleswari Temple convened an emergency meeting to take a fresh view but it transpired that the ongoing work for the light and sound show at the temple has emerged as a barrier for reopening of the shrine.
The board members said it was not possible to finalise a date for reopening of the shrine as trenches have been dug up for the light and sound show. “Trenches have been dug up on the temple premises for laying of cables. Under such circumstances, the temple cannot be reopened for devotees,” president of the board Sanjay Baboo said.
The board has asked the firm executing the light and sound project to fill up the trenches within 10 days. After the trenches are filled, another meeting will be convened to finalise the reopening date.Baboo also informed that the board members have decided to adopt a graded re-opening under which only residents of Sambalpur city will be allowed into the temple on the first five days after the shrine is reopened. Devotees will not be permitted to bring ‘Bhoga’ and flowers into the temple. Entry will be allowed after thermal screening and hand sanitization while face masks will be mandatory.
Earlier on December 3, the district administration convened a meeting and decided that temples across the district would remain closed for devotees till January 1 next year. However, the Samaleswari Temple Trust Board convened the emergency meeting after reopening of Sri Jagannath temple at Puri was planned.
The 16th century temple is the abode of presiding deity of undivided Sambalpur district Goddess Samaleswari. Constructed by Balram Dev, the first Chauhan king of Sambalpur, the temple bears the proto-Nagara style architecture and is a major pilgrimage site of the region.