Bhubaneswar: In view of the resurgence of Covid-19 infection in some States as well as in many countries, the State Government has imposed restrictions in celebration of Ganesh Puja and other Pujas/festivals in the State.
Chief Secretary SC Mahapatra has issued an order for this purpose on Monday. All the festivals including 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, will be conducted without participation of devotees.
“People usually congregate & 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 spread of the virus,” Mahapatra said in the order.
He said congregations for celebration of the above festivals and associated religious and cultural congregations will 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, it said.
People can observe the festivals in their premises without causing any congregation at any place and maintaining all safety protocols, such as social distancing, wearing masks, proper sanitization, etc.
The Puja Committees or organizers in rural and urban areas are allowed to conduct puja in mandaps/ pandals with certain restrictions.
For conducting Puja in Puja Pandals/ Mandaps, the organizers will have to apply to and obtain necessary permission from the District Magistrate or any other authorised officer.
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 authorized officer. Puja will be conducted in indoor-like conditions only for observance of rituals without public participation, pomp and grandeur.
As per the order, Puja Pandals/ Mandaps will 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 will be no darshan by public/devotees.
The size of the idol must be less than 4 feet and there will be no use of a public address system, it said.
At any given point of time, maximum 7 persons including organizers (Kartas) and priests and support staff present in the Puja Pandal/ Mandap can present on the Mandap.
Similarly, the persons present at Puja Pandal/ Mandap will have to 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 Local Administration/appropriate authority.
There will be no immersion procession. The idols will be immersed in artificial pond(s) created by the local administration for the purpose.
Moreover, there will be no religious procession, musical or any other entertainment program, community feast associated with any puja/ festival during the period.
Ganesh puja in educational institutions is allowed with participation of a limited number of students observing Covid appropriate behavior.
All the District Magistrates, Municipal Commissioners and Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack have been asked to strictly enforce the above guidelines.
Considering local conditions, the Collectors and Municipal Commissioners may impose appropriate restrictions on entry of devotees into churches /temples /mosques/ religious places/ places of worship and in the celebrations in churches/ temples/mosques/ religious places/places of worship.
The Collectors and Municipal Commissioners can also decide the number of persons to attend any such religious ritual/ festival/Puja in their respective jurisdictions with strict adherence to Covid appropriate behavior and norms.
Any person found violating this order shall be punished under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other relevant laws, it added.
Earlier, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has strongly advised the States to consider imposing local restrictions in public observance of festivals.