Suryakant Jena

Puri: A day after the Ludhiana branch of ISKCON’s decision to hold Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath on a different date sparked massive condemnation, Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb on Tuesday urged devotees and religious institutions to celebrate the chariot festival on date fixed only as per the Srimandir rituals.

The Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath is celebrated on the second day of ‘Sukla Pakshya’ in the Hindu month of ‘Ashadha’ every year. The Holy Trinity return to their abode on the 13th/14th day of the month as fixed by the Srimandir.

In this regard, Gajapati called upon all the devotees and institutions following Lord Jagannath dharma (religion) not to violate the centuries-old tradition and culture by celebrating the chariot festival on any other day.

Shedding light one such incident 10 years ago, Gajapati pointed out that in February 26, 2008 the authorities of ISKCON temple situated in Mayapur of West Bengal was also intimated to refrain from celebrating the chariot festival of the Holy Trinity on a different date.

Yesterday, an FIR was lodged at the Singhadwara Police Station in Puri against ISKCON authorities after its Ludhiana unit announced to observe Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Punjab on November 17 later this year.

After the development stroked massive protests, the ISKCON however dissociated from the ongoing controversy and clarified, “Unwarranted statements on Rath Yatra are incorrect as ISKCON has highest regard and respect for the traditional practices for Rath Yatra and the sevayats in Puri Jagannath Temple. The statements that Rath Yatra will be observed in November do not represent the views of ISKCON in any manner.”