Kolkata's Kalighat temple reopens for devotees after 100 days

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Kolkata, Jul 1 (PTI) The doors of the famed Kalighat temple in Kolkata were reopened for devotees on Wednesday, nearly 100 days after they were shut in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, authorities of the religious institution said.

The decision of the temple authorities in this regard came a month after the West Bengal government allowed the reopening of places of worship from June 1, with adherence to safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

'Ten devotees are being allowed inside the temple premises at a time. Over 100 devotees have entered the temple since the gates were reopened at 6 am,' a temple committee spokesman said.

The temple will remain open from 6 am to 12 noon and from 4 pm to 6.30 pm. However, devotees will not be allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple, he said.

Devotees will have to enter the temple compound through sanitiser tunnels installed at the gates where disinfectants will be sprayed on each person for 20 seconds, the spokesperson said.

No devotee will be given 'charanamrito' (holy water) or will be allowed to carry flowers inside the temple, he said.

'We could not visit the temple on 'Poila Boisakh' (Bengali New Year's Day), a custom which we had followed all these years. But I am happy to enter the temple on 'Ulto Rath' (Return Car Festival) today,' Hiranmoy Chakroborty, a devotee from Paikpara area in north Kolkata said.

Chhanda Dey, another devotee, said she prayed to the goddess for a COVID-free world and wellbeing of family members and fellow citizens of the country.

The Kalighat temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas.

Legend has it that one of the toes of the goddess's right leg had fallen at the place on the banks of the Adi Ganga river where the temple stands today.

While zamindar Sabarna Roy Choudhury had built the present temple complex in 1809, there were references to the Kalighat temple in Hindu scriptures dating back to the 15th century. Temple priests say a Kali temple existed on the same location in the 15th century.

The Tarapith Kali temple in Birbhum district, also a Shakti Peetha, had reopened on the day of Rath Yatra on June 23. Around 400 devotees are visiting the temple every day since then. PTI SUS ACD ACD

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