DHENKANAL: While Dhenkanal administration has decided to conduct Joranda Mela amid Covid-19 restrictions and barred people from outside the district to enter the Mahima Gadi premises, it is in for a tough task ahead as thousands of devotees and babas (ascetics) have started arriving at the headquarters of Mahima religion for the festival.
Reportedly, over 5,000 sadhus and devotees have already reached Joranda where the Mela will be held from February 25 to 27. Joranda is 25 km from the district headquarters town. Apprehensive of Covid resurgence, the administration is conducting rapid antigen tests of all sadhus and devotees within the temple premises. The Covid testing exercise began on February 20 and will end on Wednesday. Usually, sadhus arrive at least 15 days prior to the Mela but made a delayed entry this year due to the pandemic situation.
For the Mela, the district administration is setting up handicraft stalls and other local products. As many as 25 stalls will be set up by the Regional Industries Centre (RIC), and 10 stalls by Mission Shakti groups. Locals, however, urged proper enforcement of law and order while ensuring minimal disruption in the rituals. Mahima Kaupanidhari Samaj working president Babau Raghunath said,” We are participating in the Mela with the same spirit as earlier but with due respect to safety guidelines.”