Puri: As uncertainty continues to prevail over the annual Rath Yatra in Puri in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, Odisha Law minister, Pratap Jena today said a decision in this regard will be taken soon.
Rath Yatra, the annual sojourn of the Holy Trinity- Lord Balabhadra, Mahaprabhu Jagannath and Devi Subhadra- is scheduled to begin from June 23 this year. However, with the extension of the lockdown, uncertainty is looming large on the festival which sees congregation of lakhs of devotees. As lockdown has been enforced across the country to stop the spread of COVID19, darshan of deities at Jagannath temple has also been suspended.
“Whether Rath Yatra will be organised or not this year is under discussion. No decision has been taken so far in this regard. We will take a final call on it soon,” Jena said today while speaking to mediapersons.
On the other hand, senior servitor of Puri Srimandir, Damodar Padhani said, “Rath Yatra will be certainly organised this year. Even if the lockdown is extended further after May 3, there will not be any issues in the chariot construction as the wooden logs have reached Puri. Moreover, the chariot construction will begin on June 1.”
— OTV (@otvnews) April 11, 2020
He said there is only one case of Coronavirus in Puri and the administration is tackling the situation very well. In view of the pandemic, no free access should be given to outsiders during the Rath Yatra, he added.
He further said Srimandir servitors have suffered a huge loss due to the ongoing lockdown and demanded that the administration should hold discussions and announce financial package for servitors, who play a major role in Rath Yatra.
“We can defeat coronavirus and hold Rath Yatra,” he added.
Every year lakhs of devotees from across the world throng the pilgrim city to witness the grand festival. The preparations for the annual festival usually start two months in advance.
Speaking on Rath Yatra celebrations, senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra said, “Chandan Yatra of Lord Jagannath will be held without devotees due to COVID19 and if the situation does not improve in the near future, Rath Yatra of the Holy Trinity might also have to be organised without public participation.”
Chandan Yatra of Lord Jagannath will be held without devotees due to #COVID19 & if the situation does not improve in the near future, #RathYatra of the Holy Trinity might also have to be organised without public participation: Senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra pic.twitter.com/W1i78p6d2f
— OTV (@otvnews) April 15, 2020
Meanwhile, due to the lockdown, Puri Srimandir is facing a shortage of flower and basil leaves (tulsi) which are offered to the deities and used for rituals. In view of the shortage, a devotee, Chintu Baba of Dhenkanal came forward to supply flowers and basil leaves for the deities.
“When I learnt that there is dearth of flowers and basil leaves in Srimandir, I became restless. I submitted an application to the district collector who helped me obtain a pass to bring flower and basil leaves to Srimandir."
“Even as the nationwide lockdown has been extended till May 3, I will try to ensure that flowers and basil leaves reach the deities,” he added.
Speaking about Chintu Baba, a servitor said, “He has been supplying flowers, basil leaves and vegetables to Srimandir since 2014. Even during the cyclone Fani, he contacted me and brought the flowers and basil leaves for Srimandir.”