Puri Rath Yatra begins in Odisha sans devotees for first time

(Source: @PIBBhubaneswar)

Bhubaneswar (NVI): In a historic first, the rituals for the world’s biggest chariot festival – Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra – began this morning in Odisha’s Puri without public attendance and under guidelines set by the Supreme Court in the view of Covid-19 pandemic.

Yesterday, the apex court gave a go-ahead to the Odisha Government to make necessary arrangements to conduct the seven-day long chariot festival from today, while keeping in view the necessary Covid protocols including social distancing.

During the ritual today, three deities were taken atop the three traditionally decked up wooden chariots — Nandighosa (for Jagannath), Taladhwaja (for Balabhadra) and Devadalana (for Subhadra ) after the Pahandi rituals in the morning.

The Chherapahara ritual was scheduled for 11.30 am. The chariots were pulled thereafter, around 12 pm.

The Rath Yatra was allowed after the Supreme Court removed its stay on the age-old yatra yesterday.

Following the court’s order, the Puri district administration, temple priests and servitors, civic authorities, officials from the Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha made arrangements as per the guidelines issued.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah greeted the people of Odisha.

PM Modi sought blessings of Lord Jagannath for good health, happiness, and prosperity of people.

“My heartiest greetings to all of you on the auspicious occasion of Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra. I wish that this journey be filled with reverence, devotion, happiness, prosperity, good luck, and health to the lives of the countrymen. Jai Jagannath!,” the PM tweeted in Hindi

Amit Shah tweeted,” I extend my warm greetings to all, on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra. May Maha Prabhu Jagannath bless everyone with good health, joy and prosperity.”Jai Jagannath!

Dharmendra Pradhan also greeted the devotees and wrote, “Hearty greetings to all countrymen on the auspicious occasion of the holy Rath Yatra. May Mahaprabhu Jagannath bless everyone with health and prosperity.”Jai Jagannath!

Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri is the most revered and much-awaited festival of Odisha. Rath Yatra depicts the annual journey of Lord Jagannath, who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The Supreme Court granted permission to hold Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra at Puri this year amid COVID-19 pandemic with certain conditions. However, it ruled that not more than 500 people will be allowed to pull the chariots in Yatra.