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Gujarat deputy chief minister Nitin Patel and the minister of state for home, Pradeepsinh Jadeja on Thursday, performed puja of the Jalyatra, which marks the beginning of preparations for Lord Jagannath's annual Rath Yatra held on every Ashadhi - Bij.

The Lord Jagannath rath yatra has been conducted every year for the past 143 years, with the exception of 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions.

Although the state is yet undecided on the Rath Yatra procession due to the prevailing coronavirus situation, the state government and Ahmedabad city police have granted permission for Jalyatra.

Nitin Patel and Pradeepsinh Jadeja were at Ahmedabad's famous Lord Jagannath temple on Thursday morning where they performed puja and aarti.

"The holy ritual of Jalyatra began today with the holy waters of Sabarmati, which also contains Narmada river waters. This is not just a holy place only for religious worship but it's a place of importance for health too, as the temple trust carries out so many activities like treatment of coronavirus patients, holding vaccination drives, food distribution etc. Pradeepsinh is also present during this ritual, him being an MLA and the minister of Ahmedabad," said Nitin Patel.

"Looking at the situation regarding Covid-19 and maintaining the protocols, the temple trust will decide on the upcoming programs related to the Rath Yatra, with the cooperation of the state government," added Patel.

The state had granted permission for the Jalyatra where only 50 members were allowed to participate in the ritual.

Moreover, instead of 108 kalash, only five were carried out to bring water from the Sabarmati river and instead of a herd of elephants to lead the procession, there were only five elephants.

The state government will now be mulling over granting permission to three upcoming religious festivities -- Lord Jagannath rath yatra, Muharrum and Ganesh Chaturthi.

For the first time in the temple's 143 years history, last year, the Rath Yatra procession was not allowed and it was carried out by priests inside the temple premises.

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