Puri: For the second time in a generation, the world famous Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his divine siblings-Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra, is all set to be celebrated today without public participation as was decided by the government in the interest of public health due to prevailing covid-19 pandemic.
With only few hours left for the pulling of chariots, the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA), district administration and police have left no stone unturned to ensure the smooth conduct of the mega festival as per government guidelines.
Three chariots- Nandighosh of Lord Jagannath, Taladhwaja of Lord Balabhadra and Darpadalan of Devi Subhdra, parked in front of the Singhadwara are eagerly waiting to receive the deities with a warm welcome and carry them to their aunt’s house (Gundicha Temple) on a nine day sojourn.
All the servitors including members of Chhattisha Nijoga, Daitapatis and others have started rituals since early morning ahead of the trinity’s travel. The pilgrim town which usually witnesses a sea of devotees on the auspicious occasion, today wore almost a deserted look due to prohibitory orders clamped by the district administration to stop public gathering.
For the second consecutive year, the State government has banned public participation in the grand event due to the pandemic situation. As per the government directives, the administration has barred entry of any unauthorised person into the Bada Danda. Any sort of business activities barring medical emergencies are not allowed in the town during the curfew period which had come to force since 8 pm on Sunday and will continue till Tuesday 8 pm.
The chariots will be pulled by only selected servitors in strict adherence to Covid protocols. They all had undergone RT-PCR tests multiple times before the grand event to participate in the biggest festival of the State.
The police have also made elaborate arrangements for a hassle-free yatra with heavy deployment in and around the town. As many as 65 platoons of forces have been mobilised to guard the town for a smooth festival.
All entry points to the holy town have been sealed to prevent outsiders’ entry. Only authorised officials who have been assigned duties are allowed to move in the town.