Puri: Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Monday approved a Budget of Rs.190 Crore for Srimandir.
SJTA Chief Administrator Krishan Kumar chaired the ‘Chattisa Nijog’ (apex body of servitors) meeting and Finance sub-committee sitting here. The Finance Sub-Committee approved the temple’s annual budget of Rs 190 crore.
He said the budget amount will mostly be spent on rituals and festivals including Lord Jagannath’s annual Ratha Jatra, welfare of servitors and other developmental activities.
Stating that the SJTA has decided not to entertain the “Habisyalis”, who are mostly elderly women in view of possible spread of COVID-19 infections, Kumar said they should continue their rituals at their place instead of thronging the temple and making crowds in Puri.
“The decision to restrict them (Habisyalis) is taken after consultation of different stakeholders including servitors for the interest of the public health,” Dr.Kumar said adding that they would not be allowed to visit Shree Jagannath Temple during Kartik month, which commences from October 21.
Every year, thousands of elderly women mostly widows from across Odisha and outside the state also congregate in Puri and observe ‘Kartika Brata’ by worshipping the ‘Tulsi’ plant and visiting Lord Jagannath temple, one of the major seat of Lord Vishnu and one among the ‘Char Dham’.
The women performing “Habisa” avoid eating vegetables like gourds, brinjal, a number of pulses and other leafy vegetables for the whole month.
The state government and the SJTA used to open camps for the Habisyalis in Puri for smooth observance of Kartik Brata by the elderly women.
Stating that the temple remains closed on Sundays in view of the pandemic, Kumar said the devotees are also not allowed to the shrine on major festivals. The temple will remain closed for the devotees on Dussehra on October 15.
Similarly, restrictions will also be imposed on devotees from entering the temple in the second half of October 16 due to the immersion ceremony of Durga idols in the town. However, the temple will remain open on Kumar Purnima day on October 19, he informed.
Apart from Sundays, the STJA has also decided to close the temple for devotees on November 4 (Diwali), November 16 (Ekadashi) and November 19 (Kartik Purnima) this year. An SoP in this regard will be issued in a day and two days, he said.
Kumar also informed that the meeting also discussed the beginning of the work for the heritage corridor project and a proposal on implementing traditional dress code for servitors and SJTA officials who are entering the ‘Bhitarakatha’ (inner portion) of the temple.
“The ceremony for heritage corridor work will kick off from November 18 amid COVID-19 restrictions. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is scheduled to join the ceremony in Puri,” Dr.Kumar said.
The meeting also discussed putting in place certain rules discouraging devotees to enter the holy shrine with western outfits like Jeans, he said, “From Kumar Purnima onwards, the servitors and SJTA employees will be allowed to the Bhitarakatha of temple with only traditional outfit. A day after Diwali on November 5, the same restriction will be imposed on other officials.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, the 13th day of “Sodasha Upachara Puja” (16 kind of worship) in the temple, the ritual of “Shakta Gundicha Jatra” (Divine Goddess Jatra) of ‘Durgamadhaba’ was performed. The idol was taken on a chariot to the Narayani temple.
The pilgrim town now witnesses large gatherings during the Durga Puja festival and the SJTA has made it mandatory for all to wear masks at all times, in and out of the temple, to sanitise their hands before entering the temple and maintain physical distance as per guidelines.