Lord Jagannath temple in Puri will remain open throughout the week including Sundays and the devotees can eat ‘Mahaprasad’ (holy food) at auspicious Anand Bazaar. This was announced by Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) chief administrator Krishan Kumar after a review of the standard operating procedure (SOP) implemented following reopening of the 12th century shrine for the general public last month.
“Keeping in view the experience of the last 20 days and the feedback, now it has been decided to open the temple on Sundays also. “Earlier, the shrine was kept closed on Sundays for sanitisation purposes,” Kumar told reporters.
He said the devotees can witness the trinitys (Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath) Padma Bhesa (Lotus attire) on February 14, which falls on coming Sunday. This apart, Kumar said the devotees will now also be allowed to partake mahaprasad in Anand Bazaar.
Anand Bazaar is an area located on the right side of approaching 22 steps of the temple’s eastern gate where a number of traditional (bhoga) sweet stalls are located. There is also a sit out place earmarked for the visitors with water facilities. Having holy food there is regarded very auspicious.
The revised rules of the world-famous temple will come into effect from February 12, Kumar said, adding all people including the residents of Puri can have darshan of the deities by 6 am every day. Kumar said the devotees can enter into the shrine through the lions gate and exit through three other gates.
He said the administration has decided to strictly implement a ban on spitting in the temple premises, an offence for which penalty is Rs 1,000. In the new sop, the SJTA said it is mandatory for all pilgrims to wear face masks at all times, both inside & outside of the temple and the devotees should sanitise their hands before entering the temple and maintain physical distance at all times as per COVID-19 guidelines.
The SJTA also urged devotees not to touch statues or idols inside the temple. “There is a complete ban on carrying polythene bags inside the temple. A fine of Rs 100 will be levied for each violation,” he said.
Lighting of deepas (earthen lamps) inside the temple will be permitted at designated places, he said. After remaining closed since coronavirus-triggered lockdown in March last year, the temple was opened in a phased manner from 23 December, 2020.
While the servitors and their family members were allowed to enter the temple from 23 to 25 December evening, the local residents of Puri got opportunity to have darshan of the deities between 26 and 31 December. The temple was finally opened to the public for darshan of the deities Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath from 3 January last adhering to the COVID-19 guidelines.
The temple management had further eased the curbs and allowed devotees to enter into the temple without mandatory production of COVID-19 negative report from January 21 this year.