Bhubaneswar: In the wake of the second wave of the Covid-19, Odisha government on Thursday decided to ban the much-awaited annual RathYatra festival dedicated to Lord Jagannath at all places in the State except Puri, the prime abode of the Lord.
Odisha SRC and Development Commissioner Pradeep Jena made the major announcement today saying that the nine-day long sojourn of the Holy Trinity which begins from July 12 this year will be held in Puri with strict adherence to guidelines laid out by the Supreme Court and the Odisha government in 2020 when the festival was held sans devotees for the first time in its centuries-long history.
Odisha government has always given supreme importance to the safety and well-being of the public. With the second wave of Covid pandemic continuing its slow descent and threat of a possible third surge looming, public gathering during the grand festival which attracts lakhs of devotees from all around the world needs to be curbed. This apart, since it is a mass festival celebrated with much fanfare across Odisha and outside, restrictions on public participation in the celebration are necessary, the SRC said during a press briefing.
Here are the major points to note:-
- Public participation will not be allowed during the Rath Yatra in Puri
- Servitors testing (RTPCR) Covid negative or those fully vaccinated will be allowed to participate in the rituals
- As per the Supreme Court's guidelines, only 500 servitors will be allowed to pull each chariot during the festival
- Curfew will be clamped in Puri for the festival and only essential and emergency services will be allowed. Vehicular movement to and from Puri will be restricted during Rath Yatra.
- Direct live telecast of the festival will be facilitated to interested media outlets and broadcasters by the I&PR department of Odisha government
- At all other Lord Jagannath shrines across Odisha, only rituals will be conducted within the premises of the temples and public will not be allowed to participate