Odisha: Priests plan protests against temple closure | Bhubaneswar News
BHUBANEWAR: Priests and state servants on Monday urged the government to allow the temples to reopen as soon as possible. They also said they would hold a protest by blowing conch shells and ringing bells in front of temples for 10 minutes every day at 9 a.m. starting Wednesday.
“When temples and places of worship across India reopened, we don’t know why Odisha’s government doesn’t allow religious institutes here to do the same. We will also follow directions, wear masks and keep our distance. In smaller temples, one person at a time will be allowed to enter, ”said Jyoti Shankar Khuntia, secretary of Odisha Mandira Sevayat Sangha, an association of priests.
The priests said thousands of them depended on the temples for their income. Due to their closure, they live under severe financial constraints. They are also not covered by any government beneficiary plan.
“We are in a very bad state because of poverty and lack of income. Many of us die from lack of resources to buy medicine, let alone food for the family. The government has given a Covid allowance to the sevayats of the Jagannath temple in Puri, but there are hundreds of other priests whose families are living in poverty, ”said Jameswar Tripathy, president of the association.
In Unlock 5.0, the state government extended the closure of religious places until October 31. A number of PILs have been deposited in Orissa HC asking for the reopening of the temple and other religious institutes. The HC left the decision to the state government. With a large number of priests and servants at the Jagannath temple infected with Covid, the government does not want to reopen places of worship anytime soon.
“There is also resentment among the faithful about the closing of temples and religious institutes. At the time of the pandemic, visiting temples would have given us mental support and improved our self-confidence. But the government has its own logic ”, regrets Bhagaban Acharya, a septuagenarian.