Odisha: December COVID Guidelines Shadow On Konark Festival!

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Bhubaneswar: The latest COVID-19 guidelines have cast a shadow on the 31st edition of the Konark Festival set to get underway on Tuesday.

According to an Odisha Tourism release, the event, showcasing the best of India’s traditional and classical dance form, will be held at the open-air auditorium with the magnificent Sun Temple in the backdrop from December 1 to 5 between 6 pm and 8:30 pm.

A total of 70 artistes from across India and within the state will be participating in the festival.

Along with the dance festival, the 9th edition of the International Sand Art Festival with brand ambassador and chief curator Sudarshan Pattnaik will also be held on Chandrabhaga beach, 3 km away from the Sun Temple, from 10 am to 7 pm.

The press release said the event will be organised following COVID-19 guidelines and protocols issued by central and the state governments. “Due care shall be taken for entry of visitors, maintaining social distancing and sanitisations,” it added.

The I & PR department also tweeted that the event will be aired live through DD Bharti and social media.

The COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Office of Special Relief Commissioner later on Monday evening, however, extended the prohibition on large social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious functions and other congregations in Odisha till December 31.

It has particularly mentioned about the cancellation of fairs such as Toshali Craft Mela and Sisir Saras, which are usually held in the Odisha capital in December.

Only Business to Business (B2B) exhibitions will be allowed in exhibition halls with participants up to 50 per cent of the hall capacity with a ceiling of 100 persons subject to compliance of COVID19 safety protocols, the order further said.

In October, the Cuttack administration had decided against organising the historic Bali Yatra in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic situation. Boita Bandana Utsav too was cancelled with the government banning congregation of people at water bodies on Kartika Purnima (November 30) to contain the spread of the virus.

The devotees also missed the rituals of Nagarjuna Besha of the Lords in Puri Jagannath Temple and ‘Bada Osha’ Athagarh’s Dhabaleswar Temple in view of the pandemic.

The state government had also banned the bursting of firecrackers till November-end and extended closure of schools till the end of December.

Odisha has been witnessing a drop in daily caseload but the fear of the second wave of COVID-19 continue to loom large, as mentioned by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself.

The projections made after studying the phenomenon in other countries suggest that if there is a second wave in the state, it will be between December 15 and January 15.

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