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Friday, October 30, 2020

Amid threat of Covid-19, over 12k devotees expected at P’kula temple during Navratra; authorities say all precautions in place

Devotees will not be allowed to carry prasad, or bow their heads -- touch the idol or even touch the ground -- in an effort to “reduce touch-points”, said Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Updated: October 16, 2020 9:29:11 am
The health administration will also set up kiosks to conduct free Covid tests outside the temple itself. (Express)

MATA MANSA Devi Temple on Thursday released dates and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the upcoming Navratra fair to be held October 17-25. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 12,500 devotees are expected to visit the temple between these dates each day, while live feeds on social media as well as broadcast channels will run throughout the span of the Navratras.

While entry of devotees will remain regulated, the time span given to each devotee inside the worship chamber has been slashed to half — from 20 seconds till last year, to 10 seconds this year.

Devotees will not be allowed to carry prasad, or bow their heads — touch the idol or even touch the ground — in an effort to “reduce touch-points”, said Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Mukesh Kumar Ahuja.

There are two entry points — one is free of cost from where as many as 11,000 persons will be able to enter. Arrangements of a ‘VIP’ or ‘preferential’ entry for 1,600 persons at a cost of Rs 50 per person has also been made, to “regularise entry of persons who accompany old age persons or differently abled people, and divert traffic of people coming in,” said Ahuja. Entry for senior citizens, differently abled persons from VIP gates will be free. However, their family members will be charged Rs 50 for the same.

The capacity in view of Navratras has been increased from the current 4,500 persons per day to 11,000 persons during Navratras. The health administration will also set up kiosks to conduct free Covid tests outside the temple itself.

Nearly 100 devotees will be allowed in one hour slots. Children below 10 years of age and adults over 65 have been advised not to visit. Instead of serving prasad in hand, paper plates will be used to distribute halwa at exit gates. Additionally, two boxes of 100 grams and 200 grams of dry fruits available at the cost of Rs 50 and Rs 100 respectively will also be available as prasad for all those who want to buy.

While all bhandaras will remain closed to serve food, three will remain operational only to provide packed food. “This too has been done to reduce touch points while also decreasing gathering and rush inside the premises,” said Ahuja.

The decision to open dharamshalas of the temple, which had remained closed since the lockdown, were decided to be opened for persons who really require it. The rooms will be made available only to people who produce a negative Covid-19 test while checking-in. A maximum of four persons per room will be allowed. A ‘corona mukti hawan’ will be performed on all days, where dignitaries too will be invited. “Social distancing in these hawans will be taken care of. We have set up almost 25 beddings far apart,” said CEO of the Mansa Devi Trust, MS Yadav.

Live darshan will be available via Facebook, YouTube channel while also being telecast on a broadcast TV channel.

Police personnel will remain posted on the premises in view of the festival. Arrangements for ambulances, fire safety, sanitation, security, medical facilities, water and power supply as well as liason officers who will make sure protocols are followed, will be available.

Adequate arrangements have also been made for washing of hands and feet, thermal screening and proper sanitisation at Panchkula, Kalka and Chandi Mandir.

To take care of health aspects of devotees, the district health department will run round the clock health services under the supervision of the senior medical officer along with medical officers, staff nurses, pharmacists and other para-medical staff. Two ambulances fully equipped with medical aid will be available during Navratra fair, stationed at Mata Mansa Devi and another at Kali Mata Temple, Kalka.

No cultural events will be organised. Sanitation and housekeeping services have been outsourced and additional sweepers have been deployed.

There are eight toilet blocks in the Shrine Board Complex for visitors. Use of tobacco and polythene has been banned.

The Mata Mansa Devi Shrine sees lakhs of devotees every year, coming from Haryana, Punjab as well as far-off regions.

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