PURI: Beginning February 21, devotees will be able to enter Sri Jagannath Temple without producing any document. For the first time since the Covid outbreak, neither complete vaccination nor RT-PCR negative certificate would be necessitated for entry.The decision was taken at a meeting of Chhattisha Nijog, the confederation of servitors’ bodies of Srimandir and the shrine’s nitee sub-committee held here on Monday.
“The mandatory provision of furnishing complete vaccination certificate or RT-PCR negative test report at the kiosk before entering the temple has been waived,” said chief administrator of Sri Jagannath Temple Administration Krishan Kumar.
Since Covid-19 cases have gone down significantly and most people are vaccinated, the administration has lifted the restrictions. However, devotees must take precautions like wearing masks and sanitising hands before entering the temple, he said. A decision on entry of devotees, especially locals, into the shrine for witnessing ‘mangal arati’ will be taken in the next meeting of the shrine administration.
Earlier, the Chhattisha Nijog decided to take up the matter of lifting the restrictions with administration as devotees have been deprived of ‘mangal arati’ for the last two years as the temple opens only after 6 am after the ritual is over. A delegation led by senior servitor Jambeswar Mahasuar had met Collector Samarth Verma and discussed the issue. The delegation, comprising mostly elderly women, said local devotees and servitors’ families used to witness ‘mangal arati’ of the deities as a matter of habit because the first ritual of the day is considered auspicious.
On Friday, a group of lawyers from the local bar association had urged the Collector to ease the restrictions to enable devotees to have darshan of deities during ‘mangal arati’ and permit entry into the shrine from all its four gates.
Meanwhile, details of President Ramnath Kovind’s visit to the 12th century shrine were also finalised in the meeting. The President will be received by Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingh Deb, Chhatisha Nijog chief Janardan Pattajoshimahapatra and Kumar on his arrival at the temple gate and escorted into temple amid tight security. General devotees will be prohibited from entering the shrine an hour before the President’s visit. The President and the first lady will be guided into the sanctum sanctorum (garbhagruha) of the temple where they will spend around 40 minutes.