Prohibitory orders will be imposed in parts of Puri ahead of Lord Jagannath's annual 'Snan Purnima' festival on June 5 to prevent congregation of devotees in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the district administration said on Tuesday.
After a meeting with the members of the 'Chhattisha Nijog' (36 groups of servitors), District Collector Balwant Singh said restrictions under Section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code (CrPC) will be imposed from 10 pm on June 4 till 2 pm on June 6 in the seaside town of Puri.
As it has been decided to celebrate Lord Jagannath's 'Snan Purnima' (bathing rituals) in the presence of a limited number of servitors at a specific altar close to the temple's boundary wall, people should not congregate there, he said.
The decision was taken to ensure strict implementation of the COVID-19 guidelines and avoid large congregations in the pilgrim town, he added.
Earlier, the state government had urged the railways to stop running trains to Puri till further orders.
Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) made it clear that the Puri temple will remain out of bounds for devotees till completion of the Rath Yatra on July 5.
People should not congregate in Puri to witness 'Snan Purnima' on June 5, Rath Yatra on June 23 and other related rituals, said Gajapati Maharaja of Puri Divyasingha Deb.
SJTA chief administrator Krushna Kumar said devotees cannot enter the temple till 'Niladri Vije', the lord's return to the temple after the Rath Yatra, on July 5.
Kumar said in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been decided to conduct the rituals and festivals in the absence of devotees.
People can watch 'Snan Purnima' and Rath Yatra comfortably from their homes on TV this time, he said, adding that the state government's information and public relations department will make arrangements for live broadcast of the festivals.
Earlier in the day, the divine wedding of Lord Jagannath with Goddess Laxmi was conducted at the ancient shrine in the absence of devotees.
According to mythology, Lord Jagannath is worshipped as Lord Krishna and Goddess Laxmi is considered Rukmini. Lord Jagannath's wedding is conducted every year on 'Rukmini Harana Ekadashi'.
On Wednesday, another major ritual, 'Champak Dwadashi', will be held at the temple with no devotees in attendance.