BHUBANESWAR: The State government on Friday, September 10, 2021, ruled out any change in the guidelines issued for the festival season and maintained that the height of the idols will have to remain within four feet at the puja mandaps and pandals.
Announcing this, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Kumar Jena said that restrictions announced by the government in its August 9 guidelines will continue. Odisha will continue to celebrate festivals in a low key manner in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.
Stating that the height of the Durga idols will have to remain within four feet, the SRC said that the government cannot relax the guidelines. “The guidelines were issued in the interest of the people and we all have to sacrifice,” he said, adding that the second wave is yet to be over. The SRC said that the Covid cases ranging between 30,000 and 40,000 are being reported in the country even now. Odisha has also reported cases between 650 and 1,200 during the last 10 to 15 days.
Referring to Nuakhai celebration across Western Odisha, he said that people should strictly adhere to the guidelines and avoid gatherings. “This is no occasion to become complacent as a new variant of the virus is causing concern,” Jena added.
Odisha should learn from what happened in Kerala where Covid-19 spread after the Onam festival. Similar things had happened during the Kumbh mela, he said. The SRC, however, said that Odisha had set an example by celebrating Rath Yatra without devotees. “We have been fighting the Covid-19 pandemic for the last 18 months and the government is taking all measures to save lives. We have been successful largely due to the government’s active measures and people’s support,” he stated.
No change in Covid norms
Jena’s address came following protests by puja committees at Cuttack over restrictions on the height of the idols for Durga Puja. Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra had met a delegation of the puja committees of Cuttack at the Lok Seva Bhawan here in presence of the SRC on Wednesday.
The issue was raised in the Assembly by Opposition members. The BJP had given a Cuttack bandh call over the demand on September 13. Senior BJP leader Sameer Dey told mediapersons soon after the government announcement that the party will go ahead with the bandh.