Row over idol height: Odisha Chief Secretary to meet Puja committees tomorrow

Cuttack: Taking a serious note of the ongoing row over the height of idols during the festive season, Odisha Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra on Tuesday called for a meeting with the Puja committees of Cuttack.

According to reports, Suresh Chandra Mohapatra will hold a meeting with the members of Cuttack Puja committee and Shanti committee to discuss the issue. The meeting is slated to be held at 10 AM tomorrow at Lok Seva Bhawan in Bhubaneswar.

Odisha Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Pradeep Jena is also slated to attend the meeting along with the concerned officials.

Row over the height of the idol and puja rituals behind curtains started after different Puja committees and politicians demanded the State government to withdraw the restriction. They also hit the street.

“The State Government has given permission for opening every business establishments, shops, shopping mall, cinema halls and parks. But, why the restriction is imposed only for religious matter. The government put the restriction without any discussion and the idol height limit will disrupt 1000-year-old tradition of the Silver City,” alleged one of the protesters in Odisha.

“We request the State government to change its restriction regarding the heights of the idols. If it doesn’t then will be sitting on dharna on the road until our demands are fulfilled,” he threatened.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has called for a bandh over the issue to put pressure on the State government.

The State government has issued the following restriction

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 conditions 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.
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