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Odishatv Bureau

Puri: After facing all-round flak for the Snana Jatra fiasco during which devotees were seen touching the deities on the Snana Mandap (Bathing Altar) despite a ban on such practice, the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) on Tuesday said the laws related to the annual Rath Jatra will be implemented strictly during the ensuing grand festival, SJTA chief Suresh Mahapatra told reporters after the Rath Jatra review meeting chaired by chief minister Naveen Patnaik here.

The meeting, was attended among others by Puri collector Arvind Agarwal, SP Sarthak Sarangi, Law minister Arun Sahu, Puri MLA Maheswar Mohanty and servitor groups.

“For the past two years, we have been strictly adhering to our decision that nobody will be allowed to climb atop the chariot during the annual Car Festival. This time too, we will follow the same rule. Mainly during Pahandi of the deities, we have to ensure that no devotee climbs the chariot to have a darshan of the Trinity,” SJTA chief Suresh Mohapatra said.

On his part, Chief minister Naveen Patnaik sought everyone's cooperation for the smooth conduct of the Car Festival.“Various issues pertaining to the Rath Jatra were discussed today with focus on the timely completion of rituals of Mahaprabhu and provision of amenities for the pilgrims. I seek the cooperation of all for the successful celebration of the Rath Jatra.”

On June 22, the shrine administration had said it will take appropriate action against the servitors for allowing devotees to touch the deities on Snana Mandap the previous night.

Reports said the incident had taken place at about 10.30 PM when thousands of devotees crossed the barricades and touched the deities at Snana Mandap. Some devotees in servitors’ outfit were also seen touching the deities. Though the Superintendent of Police, senior district officials and SJTA officials were present at the Snana Mandap, none of them prevented them from doing so.

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