The Dakshineswar Temple and Belur Math, global headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, as well as Kalighat, a major Shakti-peetha shrine, and North Kolkata’s Thanthania Temple, will be closed to devotees on New Year’s Day on account of rising Covid-19 infections in the city.

Kushal Chowdhury, trustee of Dakshineswar temple, said on Thursday the temple authorities were forced to take the decision as lakhs of devotees gather at the shrine on January 1 and there is no mechanism to ensure physical distancing or enforce Covid norms.

The temple, dedicated to Goddess Kali, will open again on January 2, he added.

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A spokesman for Belur Math, which was set up by Swami Vivekananda, said, “Due to unavoidable circumstances, our premises will remain closed for devotees from January 1 to 4.”

The Math premises will open on January 5 for visitors, he said.

Belur Math had to take the decision as millions of people would otherwise be present at the premises on January 1 and it may trigger the possibility of contamination, he added.

Deepankar Chatterjee, Secretary of the Executive Committee of Kalighat Temple Sebayit (hereditory servitors) Council, said, “We will be keeping the Garbha Griha (sanctum sanctorum) of the temple closed on January 1 as a precautionary measure and will hold a meeting on Jan 3 to decide on the further course of action.”

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The Thanthania Sidheswari Kali temple will also stay closed on January 1 and 2 keeping in view anticipated crowd rush and the Covid pandemic, said Anjan Ghosh, Member, Managing Committee of the three-centuries old temple in North Kolkata.

The Ramakrishna Mission centres at Cossipore Udyanbati and ‘Mayer Bari’, the house where Sarada Ma, Paramahansa Ramakrishna’s wife, lived in North Kolkata will be closed on New Year’s day as well.

Kalpataru Utsav is organised at Cossipore Udyanbati on January 1 every year to commemorate the day when Pramahansa Ramakrishna revealed himself to be an ‘Avatar’ or God incarnate in 1886.

However, devotees will not be allowed in the two premises on January 1 and 2 though puja and rituals to be held as usual, officials said.

This is the second year that the entry of devotees will be restricted during Kalpataru Utsav. In 2020 too, it was closed due to the pandemic.