No puja without helmet, temple priests tell bikers

first_imgOver the years, different approaches have been tried to coax, persuade, and threaten two-wheeler riders into wearing helmets — from print and TV advertisements to fines, and awareness campaigns. Now, the Odisha police are trying out yet another: they have persuaded the priests of the highly revered Maa Sarala temple in Jagatsinghpur district to refuse the special puja for vehicles if the owners turn up without helmets.The temple, believed to be more than 1,000 years old, attracts thousands of devotees from Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Cuttack and Puri districts. In what has become a prevalent ritual, owners of two-wheelers take their new vehicles (as well as the old ones) to the temple for a special puja and seek the deity’s blessing for safe rides.The Jagatsinghpur police estimate that 10 new vehicles (on special occasions such as Sankranti, this could go up to 50) are brought to the temple every day for puja. Of the total 16,004 motor vehicles registered in the district, 13,203 are two-wheelers. “In view of the high number of road accidents, a meeting was held between priests and the police and it was agreed that the priests will refuse to perform the puja unless the owner of the two-wheeler brings the helmet along with the motorcycle for the puja,” said Jagatsinghpur Superintendent of Police Jai Narayan Pankaj. The temple’s head priest Sudam Charan Panda has said he would make all efforts to ensure the implementation of this new strategy, in close coordination with the police outpost.On Sunday, as part of the Road Safety Week campaign, 60 students of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar, danced to popular Bollywood numbers in front of Bhawani Mall in Bhubaneswar. The dance by the flash mob was accompanied by announcements on road safety, even as students held up placards with catchy slogans on the theme.Road fatalities are a major concern in Odisha.last_img

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