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Monday, May 20, 2024

Odisha: The only state you need a Covid-negative report to go to a temple; churches, mosques are exempted

The Odisha state government is allowing the opening of temples which were closed due to Corona lock down, one after another in the state. Puri Shrimandir, then Lingaraj and now other temples are opening or going to be open in coming days. However, the state government has made it mandatory for the devotee to show a Corona-negative report to go to the temple. It has been made mandatory for devotees. Otherwise devotees will not be allowed to enter the temples.

Many devotees who are financially unsound are unable to get this Corona test as it costs at least Rs 400. If any Hindu devotee wants to take his or her family then it may cost around 2000 or more than this. The government is no longer conducting any Corona test free of cost. 

Odisha is the only state in the country where such a restriction on Hindu devotees has been enforced. There is no need for a negative Corona test report to visit temples in other parts of the country.

Another important thing is that the government of Odisha applies this rule only to temples. No such Corona negative report is required to visit a mosque by any Muslim or church by any Christian in Odisha. The state government is doing injustice to Hindus by blatantly violating Article 9, Article 25 and Article 27 of the Constitution.

The Odisha government decided to open temples in Odisha only after opening of temples in all the states of the country – Odisha was one of the last states in the country to open temples after Corona lockdown.

The Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh has been opened for devotees since June 11. Since then, the general public has been visiting the temple following the Covid guidelines. There is no need of any Corona-negative report.

Similarly, the Akshardham temple in Delhi has been opened to the public since October 13, the Padmanabhaswamy temple in Kerala from August 26, the Kali temple in Kolkata from June 10, the Kamakhya temple in Assam from September 26, and the Kashi Bishwanath temple from June 7.

As you may have known, these temples were closed to the public on March 21 due to country-wide lock down. No Corona-negative report is required to enter all these above famous temples. However, the Odisha government has decided to open the Shree Jagannath Temple and the Lingaraj Temple recently on December last week after all temples opened in the country.

But why the Odisha government has made such Corona-negative report compulsory to enter only the temples, while exempting mosques and churches is still unclear. 

-By Anil Biswal

(Senior Journalist based at Odisha. With an experience spreading over 8 years, he has been actively involved with news reporting, news analysis and managing news operations. His experience ranges from covering national and regional politics to observing public policy to producing research on cultural history. He tweets at @BiswalAnil)

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