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Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow Ratha Yatra amid coronavirus pandemic: Supreme Court halts Odisha’s most popular annual festival

The PIL filed on June 15 by Bhubaneswar-based NGO ‘Odisha Vikas Parishad’ argued that holding the annual Rath Yatra, which attracts almost 10 lakh people from across the country and abroad would be an open invitation to infect lakhs of devotees with coronavirus.

The annual Jagannath Rath Yatra which was slated to take place in Odisha on June 23 has been stalled by the Supreme Court this year citing the Covid-19 pandemic situation.

The bench headed by CJI SA Bobde ordered: “We consider it appropriate that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens to restrain the respondents from holding the Rath Yatra this year. We direct that no Rath Yatra will be held in the temple area of Odisha”.

The bench was hearing pleas seeking to cancel or postponement of the historic ‘Rath Yatra’ at Puri in Odisha.

Bhubaneswar-based NGO filed PIL against holding of annual Rath Yatra

The PIL filed on June 15 by Bhubaneswar-based NGO ‘Odisha Vikas Parishad’ through advocate Ranjeeta Rohatgi argued that holding the annual chariot festival, which attracts almost 10 lakh people from across the country and abroad would be an open invitation to infect lakhs of devotees given the spiralling number of Covid-19 patients in India, including Odisha.

Hearing the plea, the CJI observed: “We are not allowing this. Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow this to continue. Activities related to the Rath Yatra is injuncted, ordered CJI SA Bobde.

The non-profit said allowing the rath yatra would violate the state government’s order. “This is a serious matter,” the Chief Justice of India has remarked.

It is pertinent to note here, that despite the central government guideline of opening places of worship since June 8. Odisha government had issued a blanket ban on places of worship and religious congregations till June 30 in view of the rising coronavirus cases in the state.

Temple administration had decided to take out the Yatra under Section 144 imposition

Meanwhile, in Odisha, the construction of Raths for the Yatra are underway in full swing after the temple administration had decided to take out the Yatra under Section 144 imposition, without the presence of devotees. 

Rath Yatra in Puri, Odisha

Jagannath Rath Yatra is a Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath held at Puri in the state of Odisha. During the annual event, devotees from all over the world throng to Puri with an earnest desire to help to pull the Lords’ chariots. It is a colourful festival which is celebrated every year in Puri. Lord Jagannath, with his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, comes out of his sanctum sanctorum in the 12th-century temple to give darshan to all Devotees belonging to all sects and communities.

Believed to be the oldest chariot procession in the world, this festival marks the annual ceremonial procession of Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra, from their home temple to the Gundicha Temple in Puri, believed to be their aunt’s home.

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