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Puri's Jagannath Temple will extend the "darshan" timing by two more hours, Shree Jagannath Temple Administration announced on Wednesday and also said that the temple will be open on Saturdays also.

Earlier, the devotees were allowed to have darshan of the sibling deities - Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath at the 12 century shrine from 7 am to 7 pm. Now, it will remain open till 9pm at night. 

Meanwhile, as the state government has lifted the weekend curfew in the city, SJTA decided to open the temple on Saturdays also. It will remain closed on Sundays for sanitisation. 

The decisions came after meeting chaired Krishan Kumar, Chief Administrator, SJTA, to review and revise the SOP notified on August 11, 2021. It was attended by the Collector Puri, SP Puri, CDM and PHO Puri, officials of SJTA and servitor members of Shree Jagannatha Temple Managing Committee (SJTMC).

"The new SOP will come into force with effect from September 13. This matter will be reviewed again for the month of November 2021 or as required from time to time" Kumar said.

As per the decisions, the temple will also remain closed on major festive occasions in order to avoid any spike in transmission of COVID-19 on account of large gathering that is anticipated on such festive occasions, the new SOP said. The temple will remain closed on September 10 (Ganesh Chaturthi), September 17 (Bamana Janma, Sunia & Biswakarma Puja), October 6 (Mahalaya), October 15 (Dussehra) and October 20 (Kumar Purnima).

As per the general guideline, it is mandatory for all devotees to wear masks at all times, inside and outside the temple, to sanitize their hands before entering into the temple, maintain physical distance at all times as per COVID-19 guidelines and follow Covid appropriate behaviour.

The SJTA also urged the devotees not to touch statues or idols inside the temple. Lighting of deepas (lamps) inside the temple at the designated place by the devotees will be permitted and the devotees were permitted to carry flowers/ bhoga inside the temple but such items shall be placed at pre-designated places as earmarked by the temple administration.

The new SOP also allowed devotees to partake Mahaprasad at a designated place inside Ananda Bazar while it banned carrying polythene bags inside the temple. A fine of 100 will be levied for each violation.

There will be a separate queue for differently-abled devotees, for darshan of the Lords, it said, adding that senior citizen/children/persons having co-morbidities: persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women and children below 10 years are advised not to visit the temple in view of the prevailing COVID-19 situation.

"All devotees visiting the temple will have to produce the final certificate for Covid-19 vaccination (of having taken two doses) or COVID-19 negative certificate (RT-PCR) testing done within 96 hours prior to their visit to the temple," the SOP said, adding that all devotees will be required to bring their photo ID card.

The temple reopened for the public from August 23 after remaining closed for devotes for about four months in view of the second wave of the pandemic.

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