Odisha government has allowed only the Rath yatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri to be conducted and nowhere else in the state, in the same manner, it was held last year observing the covid guidelines.
An order issued by the Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) said the Rath yatra other than the Puri temple may be performed within the temple premises without any chariots.
“No chariots will be pulled in places and temples in the state of Odisha except the car festival of Lord Sri Jagannath bije Puri”.
Besides Lord Jagannath temple in Puri, the rituals may be performed inside the temple premises in the state, the order said.
The other rituals of rath yatra such as Snan yatra, Gundicha yatra, Bahuda yatra,Nabami darshan, Suna vesh,adhar pana nitee and Niladri Bije will be performed only by the servitors.
This year the rath yatra will be celebrated on July 12 amidst the second wave of covid 19. The rituals will be performed by bare minimum sevayats as was done in 2020.
The SRC clarified that only the sevayats and the police personnel or any other officials permitted by the Sri Jagannath Temple Authority(SJTA) having final vaccination certificate or RT PCR negative report before 48 hours of the rath yatra would pull the chariots maintaining social distance and with adequate intervals between the two chariots.
No devotees would be allowed to participate in pulling the chariots or any other activities associated with the car festival.
All entry points in Puri town like Railway station, Bus stand, roads, rivers, sea routes will be closed during the Rath yatra and curfew will be imposed in Puri town on all the days of rath yatra by the district administration and no one shall be allowed to come out of their houses hotels or dharamshalas.
Any persons found violating these measures will be proceeded against as per the provision of section51 60 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 and Covid 19 Regulation 2020 besides legal action under section188 of the IPC and other legal provisions as applicable.
The decision of the government only to allow the Rath yatra in Puri has triggered sharp reactions among the servitors of the age-old Jagannath temple in Baripada and Sri BaladevJew temple in Kendrapara.
The servitors of both the temples said they are disheartened with the SRC order only allowing the car festival in Puri Sri Jagannath temple.
They said the government should have allowed the Ratha yatra in these two age-old temples following the covid guidelines as decided by the authority in the case of Puri temple.