Rath Yatra in Puri to be held without devotees for second year in a row

Published : June 10, 2021 20:01 IST

The 2020 Rath Yatra festival in Puri. Photo: BISWARANJAN ROUT

The annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, preparations for which are already in progress, will be held in Odisha’s coastal town of Puri on July 12 without the usual congregation of devotees in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State government announced on June 10. The festival was held sans devotees last year too as per the orders passed by the Supreme Court in view of the pandemic.

The government said the festival will be conducted only in Puri and nowhere else in the State as was done last year. However, the rituals alone may be performed inside temple premises elsewhere in the State, the government said.

According to the government order, only servitors who are fully vaccinated or have tested negative in RT-PCR test done within 48 hours prior to the Rath Yatra will be permitted to participate in the rituals in Puri.

Devotees will not be allowed to participate in the Rath Yatra rituals and associated activities, including the pulling of the chariots, and there will be sufficient interval between them.

Each of the three chariots will be pulled by not more than 500 persons and each of these 500 persons will have to be either fully vaccinated or tested negative in RT-PCR test done within 48 hours prior to the Rath Yatra. Social distancing will be maintained as far as it is practicable.

The other rituals associated with the Rath Yatra such as Snana Yatra, Gundicha Yatra, Bahuda, Nabami Darshan, Suna Besha, Adhar Pana and Niladree Bije will only be performed by servitors found negative in RT-PCR test or who are fully vaccinated.

Curfew will be imposed in Puri Town on all festival days and during such time as deemed necessary by the district administration. During the period of curfew, no one will be allowed to come out of their houses or their places of residence such as hotels and lodging houses. Any person violating these measures will be prosecuted as per the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and COVID-19 Regulations 2020 and other legal provisions as applicable. However, essential services and travel for emergencies will be allowed during this period.

A lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 has been imposed in Odisha from May 5 as the number of new COVID-19 cases began to rise in different parts of the State. Though the number of new cases has started declining, a total of 6,097 cases were reported in the State on June 9, with Khordha district reporting the highest number of cases (1,017).

A total of 8,37,226 persons have been affected by COVID-19 in Odisha since March last year. While 7,64,673 persons have recovered, the State had 69,333 active cases on June 10. The official death toll increased to 3,146, with 44 more persons succumbing to the disease on June 9.

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