[Watch] Devi Worship In Cuttack Begins Amid COVID Restrictions

Women Devotees To Be Allowed At Pandals For Astami Vrat On Wednesday

Cuttack: A festive fervour descends across the State with the consecration of Devi idols at every street corner puja pandal with lukewarm response from the devout in view of the Covid-19 restrictions.

The devout in Cuttack, being the oldest city in the state, have ritually welcomed the Mother Goddess at major junctions without crowding the places. The organisers have also decorated the Devi mandaps with limited illumination and restricted ornamentation all over the city.

The Devi idols are being worshiped with sprinkling of river water as part of Mahasaptami ritual since the wee hours of Tuesday. The goddess is offered vision on this day symbolically to mark the Saptami worship under Covid restrictions.

According to Manas Acharya, priest of Chauliaganj puja pandal, only two organisers have been allowed onto the stage to take part in the puja as part of the Covid guidelines.

Maheswar Mohapatra, priest of Ranihat puja mandap, said recital of Chandi hymns, jalabhisekha and bel leaves decoration are part of the Mahasaptami rituals and only five persons are allowed to sit at the homam for Devi’s worship.

Normally, crowds gather around the puja pandals from the Saptami whereas restrictions due to pandemic situation have disuaded visitors from coming to the mandaps in the towns.

Although puja pandals have been erected at Bidyadharpur, Chauliaganj, Khannagar, Ranihat and Mangalabag in the city, no visitor is allowed to watch the rituals or decorated idols which are closed from all sides. However, four priests and one organiser is allowed to take part in the worship at every mandap in view of the government’s SOP (standard operating procedure) for Covid-19.

However, the organisers have said that women devotees may be allowed to take part in the Astami Vrat on Wednesday while ensuring that there is no crowd at the puja mandap.

“In view of the Covid scare, we are doing the puja as a matter of tradition, to endure that there is no crowd and pray to Goddess to take care of the devotees’ lives,” said Prafulla Sahu, secretary of Khannagar Industrial Estate Puja Committee.

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