COVID-19: Odisha cancels annual Chaitra Jatra festival

Tara Tarini Development Board has decided not to allow any gathering or mass feast at the foothill

The famous annual Chaitra Jatra festival scheduled to be held on March 17 at Odisha’s Tara Tarini hill shrine was cancelled as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 infection.

The administration and the Tara Tarini Development Board (TTDB) at a meeting held at Chhatrapur on Sunday decided to abide by the instructions of the government after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

According to TTDB, more than 1.5 lakh visitors were to arrive for the festival. Of these, around 50,000 were expected to reach the hill top to offer prayers to the deity, while the rest would have enjoyed the festival at the foothill.

The administration withdrew all public services that were to be provided for the jatra. It has been decided to not allow any congregation at the foothill from March 16. No mass feast will also be allowed. Purishottampur Block Development Officer (BDO) and tehsildar have been instructed to monitor the same.

The free bus service from the foothill to the hill top has been cancelled. The makeshift bus stand and parking facility near the shrine have been withdrawn. The administration has decided to stop the ‘mundan’ facility to dissuade visitors.

“All servitors of the temple have been asked to inform devotees and to persuade them to cancel their trips,” said the TTDB secretary. A medical team will be present at the temple to screen the small number of persons who may arrive.

‘Keep safe distance’

The devotees will be advised to keep a safe distance from among each other and their hands will be sanitised. Persons with cold and cough will not be allowed to enter the temple premises.

TTDB has also decided to make all servitors wear masks. They have been advised to wash their hands regularly and avoid touching the offerings by devotees.

The rituals will continue inside the temple which will be decorated as per plans. All the proposed cultural programmes have been cancelled.

This festival is celebrated at Tara Tarini hill shrine on Tuesdays of the Hindu month of Chaitra. The largest gatherings occur on second and third Tuesdays. March 17 happens to be second Tuesday.

Tara Tarini hill shrine, located at Kumari hill on banks of the Rushikulya river, is a major centre of Shakti worship in Odisha.

Indian Navy’s sailboat INSV Tarini was named after Tara Tarini hill shrine. The first Indian all-woman crew had circumnavigated the globe in INSV Tarini.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 6:07:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/covid-19-odisha-cancels-annual-chaitra-jatra-festival/article31077548.ece

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