No more polythene at Lingaraj temple from this Ashokastami

Bhubaneswar: Taking a step in the go green way, the Lingaraj temple administration has decided to ban the use of polythene bags inside the temple premises and would provide handmade bamboo baskets to the devotees to offer flowers and Prasad to the deity from the Rukuna Rath festival on Thursday (Ashokastami).

“No polythene bags will be allowed inside the temple from this car festival. To meet the demand we have procured 500 bamboo baskets for the devotees“, Lingaraj temple administrator Abanikant Pattnaik said.

The local vendors with makeshift establishments selling puja offerings outside the temple have been sensitized regarding this.

“We have requested the vendors to co-operate with us to ensure that no devotee or visitor will enter into the temple with polythene bag,” added Pattnaik.

The move followed the recent visit of a team of Odisha High Court judges who expressed dissatisfaction over the sanitation of the temple precincts. They urged the temple authorities to maintain cleanliness of the shrine.

Meanwhile preparations have reached final stage and finishing touches are being given to the chariot for the grand festival.

Over one lakh devotees are expected to pull the chariot and the temple administration has made all provisions for devotees in view of the scorching heat.

As custom goes, the Rukuna rath never “takes a turn”. When the chariot returns after a five-day retreat at Mausima temple, the chariot is pulled from behind. The altar of the deities is only reversed. The Rukuna rath, thus, is also called analeuta (the chariot that does not take a turn).

Like every year this year also the Marichikunda water will be auctioned by the temple authorities. It is believed that a bath in this holy water helps to get rid of sins and cure infertility.

The Rukuna Ratha Yatra is more than 1000 years-old, whereas the famous car festival of Lord Jagannath in Puri started some 700 years ago. While the Puri Car Festival is celebrated in June or July, the Rukuna Rath Yatra is celebrated on Ashokastami in March or April every year.