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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Puri: In the latest development concerning Srimandir in Puri, the upcoming famous annual ‘Chandana Yatra’ of Lord Jagannath will be held outside the Srimandir premises this year amid strict Covid-19 norms.

The decision has been taken in a Sri Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) committee virtual meeting chaired by Chief Administrator, Krishan Kumar in the Piligrim Town on Thursday.

However, according to SJTA sources, the final decision regarding the observance of the famous festival-‘Bahara Chandan Yatra’ will be taken in the Chhatisa Nijoga meeting to be held on May 11.

“The rituals will be performed by selected priests and servitors amid strict Covid-19 protocols. Prior to the Chhatisa Nijog meeting, the list of the servitors will be prepared by the district Collector following a deliberation with the senior servitors,” stated SJTA administrator (development) Ajay Kumar Jena.

Meanwhile, a door-to-door survey will be undertaken for the vaccination of the servitors. The seven-member Covid-19 management team is ready to open another vaccination centre, if needed for the inoculation of the servitors on a priority basis.

‘Chandan Yatra’ and ‘Akshaya’ Tritiya are considered important festivals in Srimandir as they mark the beginning of the preparations for the world famous Rath Yatra in Odisha’s Pilgrimage City.

Chandan Yatra, also known as ‘Gandhalepana Yatra’, is the longest festival observed at Srimandir. Chandana Yatra means sandalwood voyage which continues for 42 days and is observed in two parts—‘Bahara Chandana’ and ‘Bhitara Chandana’.

Bahara Chandana starts from Akshaya Tritiya and continues for 21 days. On the first 21 days the representative idols of the Trinity are taken in a procession from the Singhadwara to the Narendra tank. The deities are taken on two chapas (grandly decorated boats), namely, Nanda and Bhadra, for an evening cruise of Narendra pond.

It is worth mentioning that ‘Chandan Yatra’ was held inside the temple premises (Bhitara Chandan) last year due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown. The rituals were performed by the priests and servitors. However, no devotees were allowed inside the temple to curb the spread of coronavirus.

(Edited By Mrunal Manmay Dash)

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