Supreme Court gives green signal to Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra with restrictions.
The Supreme Court gives green signal to annual Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra but with restrictions. The apex court orders the temple committee to organise the Rath Yatra in coordination with Odisha and Central government. As per SC’s order, there will be no public participation in the yatra due to Covid19 pandemic. Also the health and safety of those participating should not be compromised.
“Puri rath yatra will be held with coordination of the Temple committee, State and central Govt without compromising with a health issue,” says the Supreme Court.
This was the second hearing regarding the Rath Yatra. The first hearing was on June 18 in which the Supreme Court stayed this year’s Rath Yatra due to Covid19 fear. Chief Justice, SA Bobde agreed to set up a three-judge bench on Centre and Odisha government’s appeal.
Central government appealed during Monday’s hearing to allow the Rath Yatra in Puri without public participation. “Tradition of centuries may not be stopped” was the appeal made by the Central government. The Odisha government also supported the Centre’s appeal.
“It is a matter of faith for crores. If Lord Jagannath will not come out tomorrow, he cannot come out for 12 years as per traditions,” says Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General. Mehta also added that in addition to precautions the state government can also impose a curfew for a day.
“All ‘sebayats’ and ‘pandas’ who have tested negative (for Covid-19) can participate in rituals as may be decided by HH Shri Shankaracharya. People may not congregate and seek blessings on TV during the live telecast. Raja of Puri and the temple committee may supervise arrangements of these rituals,” says Tushar Mehta.
“On behalf of devotees of Lord Jagannath, the Govt of Odisha welcomes this decision of the Supreme Court. All guidelines will be followed strictly. It’s our duty to look after how Rath Yatra can be conducted peacefully & safely. State government will take all measures,” says Arun Sahoo, Odisha minister.
The age old tradition.
The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is an age old tradition followed by lakhs of people from across the world. The Rath Yatra is usually held for over 10-12 days. Three huge wooden chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are pulled by thousands of devotees. The chariots are pulled over a distance of three kilometres twice during the nine-day festival of the Trinity at Puri.
Although the Supreme Court has given the verdict in favour of Rath Yatra, there will be no public congregation. The apex court has empowered the Odisha government to take any decision regarding the Rath Yatra keeping in mind the public good.
The Supreme Court also says that the state government can stop the festivities and yatra if they feel the situation is getting out of control. It is also to be noted that the apex court has allowed Rath Yatra only in Puri and not in other parts of Odisha.