GUWAHATI/ AGARTALA: Devotees rushed to temples in the north-eastern States on Monday for offering pujas and perform other religious rituals as temples and religious places across the country were allowed to reopen after more than 75 days.
While use of infrared thermal scanner, face-mask, hand glove and alcoholic sanitiser are mandatory, many traditional customs, including mass use of vermilion, consumption of 'prasad' and 'charanamrita' (food and liquid offerings), touching and bowing to the ground to greet gods and goddess are barred.
In temples, the authorities are allowing "puja" by maintaining various Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs). As per the guidelines, only asymptomatic persons will be allowed at related to religious places.
Religious places, shopping malls, restaurants, hotels and offices that remained shut during lockdown reopened on Monday in non-containment zones across the country. They will have to follow SOPs religiously and strictly.
At the centuries-old Kamakhya Temple in Guwahati, the five-day annual "Ambubachi Mela" would not be organised this year and the routine daily visit by devotees are also barred. The temple was rebuilt in 1565 by Koch king Naranarayana.
The temple authority had earlier announced the "Ambubachi Mela", scheduled on June 22-26, would not be held and the temple would remain shut for public worship till June 30.
According to the temple authorities, the fair drew lakhs of people from across the world. Over 4.50 lakh people had congregated on the occasion last year.
Besides Kamakhya temple, Basistha temple, Ugra Tara temple, Umananda temple and Lankeshwar temple in and around Guwahati and Mata Tripurasundari or Tripureshwari temple in Tripura are among the famous temples in the Northeast.
In Tripura, around 300 people visited the Tripureshwari temple in Udaipur (64 km south of Agartala) in southern Tripura's Gomati district. It's one of the 51 holy and venerated sites in India.
"In normal times, 1,500-2,000 devotees and tourists visit the temple a day. On Monday, around 300 people visited," said Udaipur Sub-Divisional Magistrate Aniruddha Roy over the phone.
"At least two-three minutes are required to check body temperatures of people by infrared thermal scanner and to do other formalities besides maintaining health hygiene. The District Magistrate in consultation with temple functionaries has stipulated 15-point guidelines to be followed with the central government's SOPs," Roy said.
According to historian and writer Swapan Bhattacharjee, for the first time in 260 years devotees were not allowed to Tripureshwari temple to offer puja.
"For many decades before the Tripura capital was shifted in 1760 to Puran Habeli, on the outskirts of Agartala, the people visited the temple and offered puja. The erstwhile king Maharaja Dhanya Manikya built the temple in 1501," said Bhattacharjee. (IANS)