COVID-19: In Puri’s Jagannath Temple, Devotees Pray With Masks On

Crowded markets are no longer crowded, bustling streets are no longer full.

Updated19 Mar 2020, 10:38 AM IST
My Report
4 min read

In view of COVID-19, on Monday, 16 March, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) announced that all staff members and devotees need to wear face masks once inside the temple in Odisha’s Puri. I decided to visit the temple myself to see how devotees were going to pray with these new rules in place.

I caught the first train from Dhenkanal to Puri via Bhubaneshwar. I realised that the trains are not as crowded as they usually are. I got down at Bhubneshwar station and was happy to see that the railway staff was sanitising commuters’ hands.

East Coast Railway provided sanitisers to all travellers. 
East Coast Railway provided sanitisers to all travellers. 
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)

As were the temple volunteers.

Devotees were asked to sanitise before entering the temple premises. 
Devotees were asked to sanitise before entering the temple premises. 
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)

(Click here for live updates on COVID-19. Also visit Quint Fit for comprehensive coverage on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.)

I later decided to go to the Bhubneshwar bus depot near the railway station to see whether it’s as empty as the railway station. The picture at the bus depot was similar to the one I saw at the railway station. There were hardly people on the road.

I finally reached Puri and I guess for the first time I actually saw road beneath my feet. Normally, it’s so crowded that every step you take you end up stepping on someone else’s foot. But this time, it wasn’t the same.

The bus station was deserted.
The bus station was deserted.
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)

Also, there were more locals at the temple than tourists. Visitors at Puri temple need to fill forms and declare their travel history and whether any of their family members suffer from any flu-like symptoms.

Most devotees wore masks.
Most devotees wore masks.
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)

All visitors at the temple were wearing face masks despite WHO regulation stating that only people suffering from flu or the one taking care of a sick person should be wearing the masks. When I asked devotees why they wanted to come to the temple when the risk of infection is so high, many said, ‘Lord Jagannath is there to save us.’

The footfall was way lesser than what the temple is used to.
The footfall was way lesser than what the temple is used to.
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)
Temple staff was also told to wear masks.
Temple staff was also told to wear masks.
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)

I didn’t go inside the temple because I wasn’t carrying a mask.

Temple shops await devotees.
Temple shops await devotees.
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)

But the scene from outside the temple gave me an idea of how it would be inside the temple.

On my way back in the train, too, there were hardly any people. In Bhubaneswar, the situation is very similar. I saw a few people on the Bhubaneswar station because they were packed to go back to their hometowns.

Many queued to board a bus back to their villages and hometowns.
Many queued to board a bus back to their villages and hometowns.
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)
Waiting for their ride.
Waiting for their ride.
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)

Crowded markets are no longer crowded, bustling streets are no longer full.

Auto services have been hit.
Auto services have been hit.
(Photo Courtesy: Subhransu Satpathy)

There is, additionally, Section 144 imposed in a few districts so that movement is restricted. Hopefully these measures will help minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus.

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated.

The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.

Published: 18 Mar 2020, 08:50 AM IST

Never Miss Out

Stay tuned with our weekly recap of what’s hot & cool by The Quint.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!