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Will Puri Rath Yatra be held this year? Anxiety persists …

16/06/2020 at 8:21 PM

SUBRAT DAS

Bhubaneswar, June 16: With the world famous car festival of Lord Jagannath of Puri is just one week away, the temple administration today issued permission to the consecration of the three chariots of the Trinity. However, suspense persists on the manner in which the chariots will be pulled amidst coronavirus pandemic.

Public Relation Officer (PRO) of Jagannath Temple Laxmidhar Pujapanda said, “The administration today issued permission to the servitors concerned to go ahead with the consecration of the three chariots which are under construction on the Grand Road. This is one of the rituals concerning the conduct of Rath Yatra”.

On the other hand, the modality for conduct of the festival has not yet been decided. Earlier, the state government as well as the Centre had given the go ahead for construction of the chariots following Covid-19 guidelines which is now at the advanced stage. The servitors and carpenters in charge of rituals surrounding the construction of chariots are in isolation following corona test to prevent infection.

Meanwhile, a special leave petition filed by Bharatiya Bikash Parishad praying to stop the Rath Yatra this year in view of corona pandemic is pending before the Supreme Court. Earlier, the Orissa High Court had on the other hand left the matter on the state government to conduct the festival. Even it had suggested to use machine or elephants to pull the chariots.

However, the state government is yet to clear the air whether the car festival will be held this year or not. If yes, what will be the modalities – whether the chariots will be pulled by the servitors and policemen or by use of elephants or machines. The servitors have favoured the use of elephants, not machines.

If the elephants are to be used for the pulling, they have to be procured from outside the state, which needs time. That too the elephants should be the trained ones. With just one week away, it is high time to take the decision, opine Jagannath devotees.

The servitors, on the other hand, are divided on the issue. While a majority section is in favour of conduct of Rath Yatra another section is for symbolic performance of the festival for the safety of mankind.

A delegation of Daitapati Nijog headed by Binayak Das Mohapatra today met a number of ministers urging them to hold the festival this year.  

Purnachandra Mohapatra, a retired history professor and also a servitor, favours symbolic performance of the festival. “Of course, this is my personal opinion,” he says.

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