Rath Yatra 2020 LIVE Updates: As the Supreme Court permitted the festivities without any public attendance, Puri began preparation for the Jagannath Rath Yatra with the Odisha government launching massive coronavirus test drive for 1,500 who will pull chariots on Tuesday.
Priests gathered early morning at the temple premises to carry out the Rath Yatra, ANI reported. As per Supreme Court’s order, not more than 500 people will be allowed to pull the chariots.
The move came after the apex court directed that all those engaged in pulling chariots during Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra must have mandatory Covid-19 negative report. The Rath Yatra involves three chariots — Lord Jagannath’s Nandighosh, Lord Balabhadra’s Taladwaja and Devi Subhadra’s Darpadalan.
Not more than 500 people, including servitors and security personnel, are allowed to pull one chariot, and hence, the administration requires 1,500 people to pull the three chariots. “We will have to collect samples from at least 1,500 people and get them examined by 11 am on Tuesday as chariot pulling is scheduled to start from 12 noon,” a health department official said.
Here are latest updates from the yatra:
1. Odisha priests and ‘sevayats’ take the idol of Lord Balabhadra to chariot for the Rath Yatra from Jagannath Temple in Puri. The nine-day yatra, or the chariot procession, celebrates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings from the 12th-century Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, 2.5km away. The Gundicha Temple is their aunt’s home.
2. Story behind Jagannath rath yatra: Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra are worshipped in the sanctum of the famous temple in Puri. They are brought out every year on the second day of the third Hindu month of Asadha onto the Bada Danda street of Puri in three huge chariots accompanied by Sudarshana Chakra.
3.Covid-19 Positive Priest Not Allowed to Participate: Odisha’s Law Minister Pratap Jena said that as per the Supreme Court’s order, test for Covid-19 was conducted for all priests at Puri’s Jagannath Temple. He added that one priest tested positive and he was not allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra, news agency ANI reported.
As per the Supreme Court’s order, #COVID19 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: Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena pic.twitter.com/cFqcViEF25
— ANI (@ANI) June 23, 2020
4. Union Home Minister Amit Shah Extends Greetings: Union Home Minister Amit Shah conveyed his greetings to the people on the occasion of the Rath Yatra. “I extend my warm greetings to all, on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra. May Maha Prabhu Jagannath bless everyone with good heath, joy and prosperity. Jai Jagannath!” Shah tweeted.
I extend my warm greetings to all, on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra. May Maha Prabhu Jagannath bless everyone with good heath, joy and prosperity.
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) June 23, 2020
5. In Ahmedabad, Symbolic ‘Rath Yatra’ at Lord Jagannath Temple: : A symbolic Rath Yatra was organised in the Lord Jagannath temple premises on Tuesday after the Gujarat High Court rejected the state government’s plea to carry out a public procession. For the first time in 143 years, this world-renowned event was held without the accompaniment of troupes, tableaux and public participation in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
6. Sanitisation Conducted at Temple Premises: Sanitisation work was conducted at the Jagannath Temple in Puri today morning.
Odisha: Sanitisation conducted at Jagannath Temple in Puri earlier today. #RathYatra is being carried out today in Puri after Supreme Court granted permission to hold annual chariot festival amid #COVID19 pandemic. No more than 500 ppl allowed to pull chariots as per SC’s order pic.twitter.com/DbKaCJEMdG
— ANI (@ANI) June 23, 2020
7. The King of Puri Arrives at Jagannath Temple: The King of Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb arrives at the Jagannath Temple in Puri to participate in the Rath Yatra. He will perform the ‘Chhera Pahanra’ ritual where he will sweep the chariots, news agency ANI reports.
Odisha: The King of Puri Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb arrives at the Jagannath Temple in Puri to participate in the Rath Yatra. He will perform the ‘Chhera Pahanra’ ritual where he will sweep the chariots with a broom having a gold handle. pic.twitter.com/rm4cDTzB7d
— ANI (@ANI) June 23, 2020
8. King of Puri Sweeps the Chariots: : Seen here, the King of Puri, Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb sweeping the chariots using a broom with a gold handle, as part of the ‘Chhera Pahanra’ ritual during the Rath Yatra at the Jagannath Temple.
9. PM Modi Greets People: Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on the occasion of Lord Jagannath Yatra, hoping that it brings good health and prosperity. “My heartiest greetings on the auspicious occasion of Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra,” the prime minister tweeted in Hindi. He wished that the occasion brings happiness, prosperity, good luck and health to the lives of the people.
भगवान जगन्नाथ की रथ यात्रा के पावन-पुनीत अवसर पर आप सभी को मेरी हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं। मेरी कामना है कि श्रद्धा और भक्ति से भरी यह यात्रा देशवासियों के जीवन में सुख, समृद्धि, सौभाग्य और आरोग्य लेकर आए। जय जगन्नाथ!
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 23, 2020
10. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Visits Sri Jagannath Temple in Delhi: On Tuesday, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan visited Sri Jagannath Temple in the national capital with his family.
11. Recap: Decks were cleared for holding the historic Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra at Puri on Tuesday after the Supreme Court modified its stay order, besides directing other precautions in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier, the state’s health and family welfare department had conducted Covid-19 test of 956 persons, including servitors and carpenters, and others engaged in chariot construction.
The servitors whose samples were tested earlier may be engaged in Pahandi – the procession through which the deities will be carried to the chariots from the temple.
The fresh persons whose coronavirus test will be done will pull the chariots, the official said, adding that several teams of technicians are engaged in sample collection and testing.
“We are fully cooperating with the administration and our people are standing in queue to give sample so that they can pull chariots,” said Ramachandra Dasmohapatra, a member of the Daitapati Nijog and also a member of the Temple Managing Committee.
Decks were cleared for holding the historic Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra at Puri on Tuesday after the Supreme Court modified its stay order, besides directing other precautions in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Each of three raths or chariots would to be pulled by no more than 500 people who will be tested for coronavirus, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said on Monday, after the Centre and the Odisha government supported holding the Yatra without any mass congregation stressing 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, the Centre had contended.
“Indeed, if it is possible to ensure that there is no public attendance, we see no reason why the Rath Yatra cannot be conducted safely along its usual route from temple to temple,” the bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and A S Bopanna, said.
The apex court also asked the state government to impose curfew in Puri city during the religious event in which lakhs of people from all over the world participate every year.
In its order, the bench, however, sounded a word of caution that it was informed that in the 18th-19th century a yatra of this kind was responsible for the spread of cholera and plague “like wild fire”.
“We say this in order to remind the authorities concerned that the situation can become dangerous if the rules of caution are ignored,” it said.
Three heavily-built wooden chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are traditionally pulled by thousands of devotees over a distance of three kilometres twice during the nine-day festival of the Trinity at Puri. This year the congregations would have been held on June 23 and July 1.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the entire country is delighted with the apex court’s decision to permit the Rath Yatra and stressed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the initiative for consultations which ensured that the “great traditions of our land are observed”.
Shah said that he had spoken to Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, and Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb, the titular king of Puri and Chairman of Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, both of whom had publicly voiced unhappiness earlier over the stalling of the Yatra.
In Odisha, the Supreme Court order was greeted by chants of “Jai Jagannath”. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said holding of Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra in Puri amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is a big challenge, while the state government imposed a “curfew-like” shutdown in Puri district and appealed to citizens to refrain from stepping out of their homes when the chariots roll out on the Grand Road on June 23.
Asking the people to strike a balance between centuries-old traditions and public health, he said that the state can set an example for the rest of the people across the globe by performing the rituals with discipline and by adhering to social distancing and COVID guidelines. “Shree Jagannath has answered the fervent prayers of countless devotees around the world.
“I am indebted to the Honble Supreme Court for reconsidering its earlier decision and permitting conduct of the world famous Rath Yatra in Puri,” said Deb, who is regarded as the first servitor of Shree Jagannath Temple.
Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, mentioned the matter before a bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra saying the yatra can be allowed to be held this year without public participation in view of the coronavirus pandemic. “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,” Mishra said. The Odisha government also supported the Centre’s stand.
Chief Justice S A Bobde then set up a three-judge bench to hear the pleas seeking modification of its June 18 order in which it had said that this year’s Yatra cannot be allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While hearing a PIL filed by NGO ‘Odisha Vikash Parishad’ the apex court had then said that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens, this year’s Puri Rath Yatra cannot be allowed and that “Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow” it.
(With PTI inputs)