Odisha govt relaxes night curfew ahead of three-day Raja festival
Bhubaneswar, Jun 11: The night curfew imposed by the Odisha government will be relaxed for a few hours on Friday to let people go shopping for the upcoming three-day Raja festival, an official said here on Thursday.
The festival, which begins on Sunday, celebrates womanhood amid the onset of the monsoon. It is based on the belief that Mother Earth menstruates for these three days and is given a ceremonial bath on the fourth day.
It is celebrated in the coastal and tribal regions of the state. On Thursday, the state government, in a partial modification of its June 1 order, announced that the night curfew on June 12 will be enforced from 10 pm, instead of 7 pm, in order to enable people to do their pre-festival shopping.
In its June 1 order, the government had imposed a curfew from 7 pm to 5 am till June 30 amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Besides, the government had also introduced a weekend shutdown in 11 districts. However, all other conditions of the June 1 order and the subsequent amendments remain unchanged, Chief Secretary A K Tripathy said in the notification issued by the special relief commissioner's office.
The state government also advised people to exercise caution and avoid gathering during celebrations in view of the current COVID-19 situation. Stating that adequate precautions should be taken, Odisha government's COVID-19 spokesperson Subroto Bagchi said, "We will get to celebrate the Raja festival in the years to come. But this time, we must be careful and follow the advisory issued by the government, wear masks and not crowd the markets."
COVID-19 cases in Odisha have doubled between May 26 and June 11. While the number of cases was just 1,515 on May 26, it has soared to 3,386 now, he pointed out. However, Bagchi said the good news is that COVID-19 recoveries have also seen a jump. While the number of recoveries was 777 on May 26, it has increased to 2,354 on June 11.
Keeping in view the prevailing situation, the state appeals to people to celebrate the Raja festival while maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and following other norms, he added. Meanwhile, the district administrations of Khurda and Keonjhar imposed prohibitory orders at certain places to prevent congregations during the festival.
The Khurda administration imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) around the temples of Goddess Barunei near Khurda town and Ugratara in Tangi from June 14 to June 20, an official notification said.
The restrictions were imposed keeping in view the gathering of a large number of people at these shrines during the Raja festival. The Keonjhar district administration also banned any type of congregation during the festival. Any gathering for celebrations like "raja doli" (swing), "mela" (congregation), "mahotsav" (festival), and feast and traditional games related to the Raja festival is strictly prohibited from June 11-16, an official order said.
Any violation will lead to strict action under the Epidemics Act and the Disaster Management Act, it added. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation temporarily closed down 20 major shops on Thursday for violating social-distancing protocols and COVID-19 guidelines, an official said.