The pilgrim city of Puri is all set to host a devotee-less Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings for the second year in a row with the Odisha government banning the major festival scheduled to begin on July 12 elsewhere in the State in view of COVID19 pandemic.
“Ratha Yatra/car festival shall be conducted this year in Badadanda of Lord Jagannath Bije Puri and nowhere else in the State in the same manner as was done last year,” said the Special Relief Commissioner in an order.
“However, rituals relating to Rath Yatra may be performed in temples within its premises. No chariots shall be pulled in places/temples in the State of Odisha except Car festival/ Rath Yatra of Lord Shree Jagannath Bije Puri,” the SRC order added.
Besides Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri, in rest of the places, only rituals may be performed inside the temple premises.
The Ratha Yatra of Lord Shree Jagannath Bije Puri shall be conducted observing the following guidelines:
- No persons except the Sevayats shall be allowed to participate in the rituals.
- Only Sevayats having Final Vaccination Certificate or found negative in RT-PCR test done within 48 hours before the Ratha Yatra shall be permitted to participate in the rituals.
- The Rituals will be performed with bare minimum Sevayats as was done in the year 2020.
- Pulling of the chariots may be performed by Sevayats, Police Personnel or any other officials as permitted by SJTA. All such persons must have been vaccinated with two doses or have tested negative in RT-PCR tests done within 48 hours prior to Ratha Yatra.
- No devotees shall be allowed to participate in the Ratha Yatra rituals and associated activities including pulling of Rathas (chariots).
- There shall be sufficient interval between pulling of two Rathas (chariots).
- Each Ratha (chariot) shall be pulled by not more than 500 persons. Each of these 500 persons shall have either been fully vaccinated with two doses or have been tested RT-PCR Negative within 48 hours before the Ratha Yatra.
- Social distancing shall be maintained as far as practicable by the persons pulling the Ratha (s)/ chariot(s) before, during and after the Rath Yatra.
- The other rituals associated with Rath Yatra, such as Snana Yatra / Gundicha Yatra/ Bahuda/ Nabami Darshan / Suna Besha/ Adhar Pana niti/ Niladree Bije etc. shall only be performed by Sevayats found negative in RT-PCR test or having Final Vaccination Certificate and such Sevayats shall maintain social distancing as far as practicable while performing the job.
- The Managing Committee of SJTA shall ensure due compliance of the conditions prescribed in this orders.
- I &PR Dept shall make arrangements for live telecast/ streaming of the important events such as Snana Yatra / Gundicha Yatra/ Bahuda / Suna Besha/ Niladree Bije and shall share the common feed to all willing electronic/ web media. Further, I&PR Department in consultation with SJTA and District Administration shall make arrangements for still photography of important activities/ events by following Covid protocols.
- Bare minimum number of Sevayats and temple staff shall be allowed by the Managing Committee of SJTA to participate in the rituals and the Ratha Yatra. All such persons shall have either been fully vaccinated with two doses or must have been tested RT-PCR negative within 48 hours before the event.
- All entry points in Pun Town like Railway Station/ Bus Stand/ Roads/ Rivers and Sea routes shall be closed during period of Ratha Yatra and on any other days as deemed necessary by the District administration.
- Curfew shall be imposed in Puri Town on all such days and during such time as deemed necessary by the District administration. During the period of curfew no one shall be allowed to come out of their houses or their places of residence such as hotels/ lodging houses / dharmashala etc. However, essential services covering ambulance/medicine shops/medical personnel/water supply/power supply/ telecommunication etc. or any other services/personnel as required by district administration shall be allowed during this period. Similarly persons requiring emergency travel to and from Puri shall be allowed by the local administration.
- Trains/ Buses and private vehicles shall not be allowed to enter Pun Town during all such days and during such time as ordered by the District Magistrate, Puri.
Any person violating these measures will be liable to be proceeded against as per the provisions of Section 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and COVID-19 Regulations 2020, besides legal action under Sec. 188 of the IPC, and other legal provisions as applicable.
In case of any other doubt, the State Government in Revenue &Disaster Management (Disaster Management) Department will issue necessary directions or clarifications.