A visual of Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra being held in Puri, Odisha. (Photo/ANI)
A visual of Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra being held in Puri, Odisha. (Photo/ANI)

Jagannath Rath Yatra begins in Odisha

ANI | Updated: Jun 23, 2020 16:47 IST

Puri (Odisha) [India], June 23 (ANI): The annual Jagannath Rath Yatra commenced on Tuesday in Puri without devotees, amid the coronavirus pandemic and a curfew in Puri.
The city had started preparations since Monday night after the Supreme Court modified its earlier order and allowed the festival to be held but with restrictions.
The Yatra celebrates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings from the 12th-century Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple their aunt's home, some 2.5 kilometres away.
The event began today with the priests gathered at the Jagannath temple to carry the idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and sister Subhadra to the chariots.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning greeted devotees this moring in a tweet: "My heartiest greetings to all of you on the auspicious occasion of Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra. I wish that this journey filled with devotion brings happiness, prosperity, good luck and health to the lives of the countrymen. Jai Jagannath!".
The former King of Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb arrived at the temple to perform the 'Chhera Pahanra' ritual where he swept the chariots with a broom having a gold handle.
The Supreme Court had on Monday allowed the annual Yatra to be held with the coordination of the Temple committee, State and Central government without compromising with the health issue pertaining to COVID-19. The court had earlier put a stay on the Yatra.
Following the apex court's order, sanitisation was conducted at the temple and the grand road where the yatra takes place. The authorities are broadcasting the Rath Yatra as no devotee is permitted to attend the same and not more than 500 people were allowed to pull chariots and social distancing has to be maintained.
Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena ahead of the festival said that a temple priest had tested positive.
As per the top court's order, the coronavirus test was conducted for all 'sevayats' (priests) at Puri's Jagannath Temple. "One sevayat has tested positive, he is not allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra," Jena said.
Earlier Balwant Singh, District Magistrate of Puri informed that the authorities will be performing the COVID-19 test for the participants as the temple administration is taking care of the rituals.
All the participants were tested for COVID-19 and those who tested negative were permitted to attend the festival.
To contain the spread of COVID-19, the state has imposed restriction of movement starting from Monday 9 pm to Wednesday 2 pm.
While Odisha is celebrating the Rath Yatra festival, the celebration was restricted to the temple premises in Gujarat and Kolkata as per the SC orders. (ANI)