Coronavirus: Puri's Jagannath Temple to Remain Off Limits for Devotees till April 1
This is the first time in the history of the temple, a pre-eminent Hindu pilgrimage spot, that the entry of devotees has been prohibited.
A photo of Jagannath Temple.
Bhubaneswar: The entry of devotees into the 12th-century temple of Lord Jagannath in the seaside town of Puri in Odisha was on Thursday banned till Apri 1 as a precautionary measure against the spread of Coronavirus.
This is the first time in the history of the temple, a pre-eminent Hindu pilgrimage spot, that the entry of devotees has been prohibited. Historians say when Puri was invaded by Kala Pahar, a Muslim General of the Bengal Sultanate, in 1568 AD that the temple had last remained closed for a few months. While Kala Pahar had attacked the temple and looted the wealth, its servitors had saved the idols by secretly carrying them to the Chilika lake and hiding them in the Parikud Island.
In the period when the temple is closed for public viewing, the services will be in accordance with the rules of the Jagannath.
“For 14 days, starting March 20 up to April 1, public viewing of the deities and entry of devotees inside the Jagannath temple will remain suspended in view of the precautionary measures being taken to combat the spread of Coronavirus," said Puri District Magistrate Balwant Singh. "All the rituals of the deities would continue to be observed in accordance to the established principles and traditions by the servitors, who only can enter the temple."
Ramchandra Das Mohapatra, a senior member of the temple's management committee, said there would be no difficulty in maintaining the deities’ rituals. “The deities would be provided regular meals and taken care of as before. Only the cooking of the 'Mahaprasad' that is distributed to devotees will remain suspended,” he said.
Santosh Mallick, a devotee who visited the temple on Thursday, said the chances of coronavirus spreading in the city is high as Puri is an international tourist destination. "That is why all devotees will be willing to cooperate and support the ban imposed by the administration,” he said.
The Puri administration over the past few days has banned the entry of all tourists, especially foreigners, and asked all hotels to evict foreign guests immediately. As part of a wide range of measures taken to check the spread of coronavirus, the administration has also declared the beach a ‘No Tourist Zone’ and ordered shops and business establishments along it to stay closed till further orders.
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