Odisha allows 'indoor-like' pandals for Durga puja

Odisha allows 'indoor-like' pandals for Durga puja, other festivals

Organisers have to apply to obtain necessary permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorised by them

Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

The Odisha government has allowed different puja committees to conduct the Durga, Ganesh, Laxmi, Kali puja and other similar events on pandals in “indoor-like” condition only for observance of rituals without any public participation, an official order said.

The order issued by the Special Relief Commissioner’s office and signed by Chief Secretary S C Mohapatra on Monday said that the organisers shall apply to obtain necessary permission from the District Magistrate or any other officer authorised by them.

For areas under the Commissionerate of Police, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, such permission will be given by the Commissioner of Police or any other officer authorised by him.

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"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 order said, adding that the size of the idol shall be less than 4 feet and no use of public address system.

At any given point of time, there shall not be more than 7 persons including organisers (kartas) and priests and support staff present in the puja pandal/ mandap, the order said, adding that 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 organisers and other persons involved in conducting the puja shall abide by any other condition(s) as imposed by the local administration/ appropriate authority, it said.

The order, which has been issued to ensure no mass congregation, also said that there shall be no immersion procession. The idols will be immersed in artificial pond(s) created by the local administration for the purpose. There shall be no religious procession of any kind of any religious community. There will be no musical or any other entertainment programme during the festivals.

The order said that the Ganesh puja in educational institutions is also allowed with participation of limited number of students observing Covid appropriate behaviour. ”There shall be no musical or any other entertainment programme. Ganesh puja in educational institutions is allowed with participation of limited number of students observing Covid appropriate behaviour,” it said.

No community feast associated with any puja/ festival during the period shall be allowed, it said, adding that all the District Magistrates/ Municipal Commissioners/ Commissioner of Police, Bhubaneswar-Cuttack shall strictly enforce the above guidelines.

The order also clarified that congregation for celebration of the above festivals/puja and associated religious and cultural congregations shall not be allowed in public throughout the state.

All such important pujas are this year falling in the month of August, September, October and November.

The order also categorically said that any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against in accordance with the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and Regulations issued thereunder besides legal action under Section188 of the IPC and other legal provisions as applicable.