Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra in Odisha cancelled over COVID-19 fear

ST Staff
Friday, 19 June 2020

The Supreme Court passed an order where it said that this year, the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha or any other state in the country will not be organised amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

In a recent hearing, the Supreme Court passed an order where it said that this year, the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha or any other state in the country will not be organised amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Naveen Patnaik led Odisha government decided to obey and follow the SC orders to ensure the state’s safety.

The nine-day festival which is celebrated every year with pomp and zeal was scheduled to begin on June 23 this year. An emergency state cabinet meeting was called on Thursday at Bhuvaneshwar’s Lok Seva Bhavan which was presided by CM Patnaik following which the decision was taken.

Previously, the Rath Yatra in Puri was expected to be held on June 23 as a stay order was passed by the Supreme Court to hold the festival.

The spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic posed a worrying sign among the bench of Chief Justices of India (CJI) Sa Bobde, Dineesh Maheshwari and AS Bopanna. They said that amid the increasing active cases of the infection, health and safety of the citizens becomes the primary concern and thereby the annual Rath Yatra of Jagannath in Puri cannot be permitted to take place.

India today quoted CJI SA Bobde as saying, “Lord Jagannath won't forgive us if we allow this year's Rath Yatra to go on, as such a huge gathering can't take place during the pandemic."

Ashok Parjia, Advocate General of Odisha was content with the SC order, on the other hand, Pratap Jean, law minister of Odisha did not agree to the order. However, the district magistrates were instructed to make sure that the temple committees and religious institutes abide by the order.

According to an official notice shared by the Chief Minister’s office, during the meeting, a resolution was passed which said that the Management Committee of the Shree Jagannath Temple has received permission to perform rituals in the interiors of the Puri shrine, built in the 12th century complying to the decision of the top court.

The cabinet stated that along with the Central and State government's norms and directions issued on COVID-19, the state should also strictly follow the Supreme Court orders.

The latest order is likely to disappoint a lot of people who eagerly wait for the festival every year but the Cabinet feels that “Accepting Mahaprabhu''s (Lord Jagannath) wishes is the real devotion and moving forward in life."

The resolution passed by the Cabinet stated, "Lord Jagannath is the soul and identity of the Odia race. He is the guiding source of all the Odias. He has appeared in the form of Daru (wooden idol) for the welfare of the entire human race. He is the master and we all are temporary. Nothing happens in this world without his wishes.”

"We have completely surrendered before him at a time when the entire world is fighting against the pandemic. Let Lord Jagannath save all of us from this crisis," It added.

However, many parties such as the Jagannath Sena resented the decision of the Supreme Court and protested against the suspension of the festival.

An NGO based in Odisha filed a petition with the Supreme Court on the suspension or postponement of the festival following which the order was passed.

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