Bhubaneswar: In a bid to convince people to stay indoors and follow lockdown norms to beat the highly infectious novel coronavirus, the Odisha government sought to invoke religious sentiments of 4.5 crore Odias by highlighting how Lord Jagannath also quarantines himself for 14 days before the annual Rath Yatra.
The Lord has an annual ritual called ‘Anasara’ (isolation) for 14 days as part of which he stays away from the devotees. According to mythology, the Lord developed a fever after brisk bathing on Snan Purnima day and fell ill. Thereafter, the deities, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath, were taken to ‘Anasara Ghar’ (isolation room) where they underwent treatment and recovered after 14 days.
Odisha government’s Chief Spokesperson on COVID-19 Subroto Bagchi highlighted the ‘Anasara’ ritual of Lord Jagannath and encouraged people to go for isolation saying that ‘Anasara’ or home quarantine was an intrinsic part of the Odia culture and tradition which all should follow.
“The Lord of the universe catches a cold and therefore keeps himself in Anasara. The people now face novel coronavirus,” Bagchi said.
He appealed to the people to remain indoors, follow Lord Jagannath’s rituals to effectively counter the coronavirus, a highly infectious virus that has killed more than 14,000 people across the world.
An official source said that since 70 per cent of people in Odisha lives in rural areas and almost all are linked to Lord Jagannath’s culture and tradition, people have started placing themselves under home quarantine.
Bagchi also cited instances of history and quoted Madala Panji, the temple almanac and said that the Lord had faced at least 22 lockdowns in the face of attacks on the temple by invaders.
According to Shree Jagannath Temple history, the Lord has remained in isolation on different occasions (a total period of 170 years), claimed Bhaskar Mishra, a researcher in Jagannath culture.
After 1736, the doors of the temple were closed for the devotees this month under extraordinary situation caused by COVID-19 menace. The doors of the temple were never closed between this period, he said.
While highlighting the state’s socio-religious history, Bagchi said, “One should not be worried or feel bad about remaining indoors. It is part of Odia culture and tradition which is not different from the practices in Shree Jagannath Temple.”
Since the people of Odisha follow the rituals of Shree Jagannath Temple, they should not hesitate to stay in isolation and maintain social distancing, essential to fight the deadly disease, he said, adding that while the master of the universe (Lord Jagannath) keeps himself in isolation to defeat the cold virus, the people should practice the same strategy to defeat novel coronavirus.
The Odisha government earlier this month banned entry of visitors to the 12th-century shrine in Puri in an attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus.