Odisha allows community puja, festivals without congregation amid threat of third wave 

People have been asked to observe pujas including Ganesh Puja, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, and Kali Puja falling in the next three months on their premises with strict adherence to Covid safety norms.

Published: 09th August 2021 07:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th August 2021 07:13 PM   |  A+A-

An idol of goddess Durga. (File photo| PTI)

By Express News Service

BHUBANESWAR: With the resurgence of infections in some States ahead of Covid third wave, the Odisha government on Monday made it clear that all pujas and festivals, including Dussehra and Diwali, will be celebrated without congregation of devotees like the previous year.

Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra has directed that gatherings for the celebration of pujas and festivals and associated religious and cultural congregations will not be allowed in public throughout the State.

In a notification, people have been asked to observe pujas including Ganesh Puja, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, and Kali Puja falling in the next three months on their premises with strict adherence to Covid safety norms.

Pujas will be conducted in indoor-like conditions only for observance of rituals without public participation, pomp, and grandeur. The pandals/mandaps will be covered on three sides while the fourth side will be covered in a way not to allow any public view of the idols. There will be no darshan by devotees.

“People usually congregate and get in touch with each other to celebrate festivals and pujas during which it is not possible to adhere to Covid appropriate behaviour and such congregations have a potential to spread the infection,” the notification stated.

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However, Ganesh puja in educational institutions has been allowed with the participation of a limited number of students. Similarly, religious rituals in temples, churches, mosques and places of worship will continue as usual with a limited number of persons.

For conducting puja in pandals/mandaps, the organisers will have to obtain necessary permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorised. For areas in the Twin City, permission will be granted by the Commissioner of Police or any other authorised officer.

The guidelines issued by the office of the Special Relief Commissioner indicated that the idol size should be less than four foot and there will be a ban on the use of public address systems.

At any given point of time, not more than seven persons, including organisers (Kartas), priests, and support staff will remain present at the puja pandal/mandap. The persons present at puja mandaps will have to follow all Covid protocols.

There will be no immersion procession and musical or any other entertainment programme. The idols will be immersed in artificial ponds created by the local administration for the purpose. Religious procession of any kind of any religious community and community feast associated with any puja/festival during the period have been banned.

“Any person found violating the guidelines will be punished in accordance with the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 besides legal action under Section 188 of IPC and other legal provisions as applicable,” the notification added.


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