Bhubaneswar: The Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) of Odisha government on Monday issued a guideline for the celebration of upcoming pujas and festivals in the State.
The SRC said that Ganesh Puja, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja and other similar Puja/ festivals of other religious communities are falling in August, September, October and November of 2021 and people usually congregate and get in touch with each other to celebrate the festivals/ pujas during which it is not possible to adhere to COVID appropriate behaviour and such congregations have a potential to cause the spread of the virus.
It is felt necessary to issue guidelines/ instructions for the observance of puja/ celebration of festivals well in advance so that the general public as well as the organisers of such pujas/ festivals will be suitably prepared, it added.
Now, therefore, the following guidelines are issued in the interest of the health of the general public and for containment of the spread of COVID-19:
- It is hereby directed that congregation for celebration of the above festivals/puja and associated religious and cultural congregations shall not be allowed in public throughout the State.
- However, religious rituals in churches/ temples/mosques/places of worship will continue as usual with a limited number of persons with strict adherence to Covid protocols.
- The citizens are allowed to observe the said Pujas/ festivals in their premises without causing any congregation at any place and maintaining all safety protocols, such as social distancing, wearing masks, proper sanitisation, etc.
- The Puja Committees/organizers/ in rural and urban areas are allowed to conduct puja in mandaps/ pandals as per the following instructions:
- For conducting Puja in Puja Pandals/ Mandaps, the organizers shall apply to and obtain necessary permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorised by him/ her. For the area under Commissionerate of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, such permission shall be given by the Commissioner of Police of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar or any other officer authorised by him/ her.
- Puja(s) shall be conducted in indoor-like condition only for observance of rituals without public participation, pomp and grandeur.
- Puja Pandals/ mandaps shall be covered on three sides. The 4th side shall also be covered in a way not to allow any public view of the idols. There shall be no darshan by public/ devotees.
- The size of the idol shall be less than 4 feet.
- There shall be no use of public address system.
- At any given point of time, there shall not be more than 7 persons including organisers and priests and support staff present in the puja pandal/ mandap.
- The persons present at puja pandal/ mandap shall follow all Covid protocols of social distancing, mask use, personal hygiene and sanitation issued by Central/ State Government/ Local Administration in letter and spirit.
- The organizers and other persons involved in conducting the Puja shall abide by any other condition(s) as imposed by their local Administration/ appropriate authority.