In view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation, the Odisha government on Monday imposed restrictions on congregation of devotees during the celebration of Ganesh Puja and other festivals in the state till November.

In an order, Chief Secretary S.C. Mahapatra said that Ganesh Puja and other festivals to be held during the festive season this year will be held without the congregation of devotees.

He said the restriction is for Ganesh Puja, Durga Puja, Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja and other Pujas/festivals of other religions falling in August, September, October and November of 2021.

“People usually congregate and 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.

The order says that 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 and other places of worship will continue as usual with a limited number of persons with strict adherence to Covid protocols, it said.

For conducting Puja in Puja Pandals/Mandaps, the organisers will have to obtain permission from the competent authority.

The Puja can be conducted in indoor conditions only for observance of rituals without public participation, pomp and grandeur. There will be no darshan by the public.

The size of the idol should be less than four feet and there should not be use of a public address system. A maximum of seven persons have been allowed to be present in the Puja Pandal/Mandap at one time, the order said.

The persons present at the Puja Mandap will have to follow all Covid protocols. The government has also banned immersion processions. The idols will be immersed in an artificial pond created by the local administration for the purpose.

Restrictions have also been imposed on organising musical or any other entertainment programme and community feast during the festivals.

Ganesh Puja in educational institutions is allowed with participation of a limited number of students observing Covid appropriate behaviour.

“Any person found violating this order will be punished under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other relevant laws,” warned the government.

–IANS

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