Betel leaves, tobacco to be banned inside Jagannath temple

The Puri Rath Yatra is attended by lakhs of people from across the world and is scheduled from June 23. Photo: PTI (file)

According to a senior temple official, from Thursday (August 1), betel leaves and tobacco will be banned inside the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri and violators will have to pay a fine of ₹500.

The official added that, to ensure the cleanliness of the 12th century shrine, the decision was taken during a Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) meeting which was held on Monday. “Any devotee or temple staffer found chewing tobacco or betel leaves will be barred from entering the premises and a fine of ₹500 will be imposed on them,” PK Mohapatra, Chief Administrator of the SJTA, said.

The SJTA will set up boards around the temple to create awareness among the public about the new rule, he said. Another official added that guards posted at the temple gates will frisk the devotees and temple staffers to prevent them from carrying the banned items inside the premises.

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Lapses and irregularities observed during the Rath Yatra festival along with repair work of the temple were also discussed in the meeting, the official said.

However, the move was welcomed by many on social media.

Earlier, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has requested Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Singh Patel for the inclusion of Sun Temple in Konark and Jagannath Temple in Puri in the iconic tourist sites.

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