Puri Rath Yatra likely to be cancelled due to COVID-19; final decision after May 3


Puri Rath Yatra likely to be cancelled due to COVID-19; final decision after May 3

The centuries-old festival of Puri, the Rath Yatra, might not take place this year. Its fate will be decided once the centre outlines the guidelines after May 3. Referring to this, Puri Gajapati Maharaj, Dibysingh Deb said that the decision will be made after assessing the rules, guidelines, and measures to be adopted, as per the government’s announcement after the lockdown ends.

In all likelihood, the Rath Yatra held in the Jagannath Temple of Puri, might not be a grand affair this year, given the crisis the country is facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, as per the government’s plan, only a set of rituals related to Rath Yatra will be performed inside the temple, but without the presence of any pilgrims.

Scheduled to be celebrated on June 23, if the Rath Yatra doesn’t take place this year, it would be for the first time in 284 years. As of now, it is almost certain that the temple calendar will not feature the grand spectacle this year.

Puri Rath Yatra likely to be cancelled due to COVID-19; final decision after May 3

The celebration normally attracts tons of visitors from across the world every year, and witnesses frenzied devotees pulling the raths (chariots) of the three deities, i.e., Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, on the Grand Road. A senior functionary of the Govardhan matth added that the top seer after examining the religious scriptures, recommended that the celebration might be confined inside the shrine by following certain rituals. And since lakhs of devotees wait outside the temple to watch Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra on their giant iconic chariots, the traditional exercise of pulling of chariots may not happen this year to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Further, reports state that construction of chariots cannot begin until May 3 due to the restrictions already in place.

And if the celebrations are held the way it has been suggested by the titular heads, Rath Yatra will be limited to watching it live on TV this year.

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