Nallur festival to limit devotees this year
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
Director General of Health Services, Dr. Anil Jasinghe has issued a directive to the Northern Provincial Health Directorate to reduce the number of devotees at the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple during this year’s festivities owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Northern Province health sources said on 31 July that although the flag hoisting ceremony was held on 25 July, instructions in regard to health guidelines were only issued at the end of the week. The number of devotees entering Temple premises has been limited to 300 persons at a time. They said that the largest crowds at the Temple are usually seen during the 10th day of the festivities.
The directive will have to be forwarded to the temple authorities and the Armed Forces, who are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the devotees, they said.
Sources said that the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) in charge of the area had made several appeals to the Provincial Health Director of the Northern Province to strengthen health safety measures during festivities. However, sources said that the MOH had even had to make his appeal to the Governor of the Province.
Annually, at least 50,000 people attend the temple’s grand celebrations, while over 3,000-4,000 people attend other days of the feast.
However, this year, measures have been taken to stop certain ceremonies such as the alms giving, kavadi dancing and the sacred ritual of rolling on the ground.
Commissioner of the Jaffna Municipal Council, R.T. Jeyaseelan said that measures will be taken to register the devotees entering temple premises. Temperatures of visitors will be checked and they are instructed to wear masks and wash hands. Furthermore, banners and posters displaying hygiene guidelines will be displayed during the festival.