Pradeep Pattanayak

The Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) has started the process for the inclusion of the world-famous Puri Rath Yatra on the Representative List of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity' under UNESCO.

The SJTA swung into action after receiving a letter from the Odia Language, Literature & Culture department wherein it was asked to constitute an advisory committee. 

Acting on the letter, the SJTA has already convened a meeting and started the requisite procedures, said an SJTA member on the condition of anonymity. 

Lakhs of devotees and pilgrims from different corners of the world throng Puri to witness the Rath Yatra every year. The uniqueness of this annual festival is that Lord Jagannath and his siblings –Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra come out of their sanctum sanctorum once in a year so that His devotees belonging to different religious faiths can have a darshan of them. 

Considering this, the Rath Yatra should be included on UNESCO’s list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’. 

A detailed nomination is learnt to be filled this year. An advisory committee will be formed to prepare the nomination. At the SJTA meeting, it was first decided that the proposed advisory committee would have five members- three persons from the SJTA and two seers from local mutts. 

However, the meeting later decided that the number be raised to seven comprising five members and two mutt seers. 

It is learnt that the draft nomination would include details about the rituals observed during Rath Yatra starting from Akshay Tritiya to Niladree Bije and would contain their video clips as well. 

Notably, the Puri district administration had shot off a letter to UNESCO through the Culture department last year, requesting the world body for the tag. 

Worth mentioning, Kolkata Durga Puja and Kumbh Mela among others have been inscribed on the Representative List of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.