PURI (Odisha): The Bhagwan Shri Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, one of India’s biggest religious festivals, is underway on Tuesday in the temple town in Odisha amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Traditionally, more than 10 lakh devotees adhering to the Sanatan Dharm converge in Puri during the festivities but this year people will not be allowed after the Supreme Court placed several conditions, including the imposition of a curfew in Puri during the festivities.
The chariots of the Lords Jagannath and Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra will be pulled only by the selective servitors and police officials.
— League of India @ #IndiaFightsCorona (@league_of_india) June 23, 2020
The Supreme Court Monday asked the Odisha government to make necessary arrangements to conduct Puri’s Rath Yatra, scheduled to start from June 23, in a restricted manner in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The apex court also said it cannot “micro-manage” the rituals and left it to the wisdom of state, the Centre and temple management to deal with that issue.
“If it is confined to Puri alone in a limited way without public attendance as proposed by Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, Chairman of the Puri Jagannath Temple administration, state govt will endeavour to make necessary arrangements to conduct it accordingly,” the SC bench said.
The apex court has also directed that the govt should impose curfew in Puri during procession. The Odisha government imposed a shutdown in Puri district from 9 pm on Monday till 2 pm on Wednesday.
The rituals for the world-famous Rath Yatra have started with Mangal Aarati followed by Mailam, Tadaplagi, Rosha hom, Aabakasha and Surya puja. The Pahandi ritual has also begun.
The siblings, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, will board the chariots at the Singha Dwara facing towards the Gundicha Temple by 10 in the morning.
The Chherapahara ritual will be held at 11.30 a.m. The chariots will be pulled thereafter around 12 noon.
Jai Jagannath! May Lord Jagannath bless all on the auspicious occasion of #RathYatra .Mahaprabhu bless all with good heath, joy and prosperity.
My SandArt at #Puri beach in Odisha . pic.twitter.com/TZb6N5y7F8
— Sudarsan Pattnaik (@sudarsansand) June 23, 2020
Here is all about the Rath Yatra festival in Puri:
ॐ Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra are usually worshipped in the sanctum of the famous Jagannath Temple in Puri. They are brought out of the temple every year on the second day of the third Hindu month of Asadha onto the Bada Danda street of Puri in three huge chariots accompanied by Sudarshana Chakra.
ॐ The nine-day Rath Yatra, or the chariot procession, celebrates this annual journey of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings from the 12th-century Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Temple, 2.5km away. The Gundicha Temple is their aunt’s home.
ॐ The rituals for Rath Yatra will begin at 3am inside the 12th-century shrine.
ॐ The Pahandi ritual (procession) will begin at 7am and the deities will board the chariots at the Singha Dwara facing towards the Gundicha Temple by 10am. The Chherapahara ritual will be held at 11.30am. The chariots will be pulled thereafter at around 12pm.
ॐ The three deities are taken in the massive wooden chariots weighing 85 tonnes each. After staying in Gundicha temple for nine days, the three deities come back to the Jagannath Temple on the 10th day in a return journey.
ॐ Lord Jagannath’s chariot Nandighosa is 45.6 feet in height and has 18 wheels. The 45- feet chariot of Lord Balaram comes with 16 wheels and is known as Taladhvaja and Devadalana is Goddess Subhadra’s 44.6 feet chariot with 14 wheels.
ॐ The chariots are built every year only from a particular type of tree.
ॐ Thousands of devotees pull the chariots to their aunt’s temple, the Gundicha Temple. It is considered to be a good omen and is also believed to bring luck and success if one gets a chance to pull the chariots.
ॐ The deities stay at the Gundicha Temple for nine days, after which they ride the chariots back to their Jagannath Temple, a journey known as Bahuda Jatra.
ॐ The chariots on the way back stop at the Mausi Ma Temple or home of Lord Jagannath’s aunt. The deities are offered Poda Pitha, a special pancake which said to be the favourite of Lord Jagannath, at the Mausi Ma Temple.
ॐ In the 425 years of the Rath Yatra, the event has been stopped 32 times, mostly during invasions.
ॐ It was not held for the first time in 1568 when Kala Pahad alias Kala Chand Roy, a general of Bengal king Suleiman Kirrani, attacked the temple and pillaged the deities.
ॐ The last time it could not be held was between 1733 and 1735 when Mohammed Taqi Khan, deputy governor of Odisha, attacked the Jagannath temple, forcing the shifting of the idols to Ganjam district.
Impact of COVID-19:
After the Supreme court’s decision in favour of Rath Yatra, the District Administration has imposed a curfew in Puri for the Yatra.
The public has been requested not to enter any part of the district during this period. Around fifty platoons of police have been deployed.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has made a special appeal to the people of Puri to observe COVID guidelines and keep themselves and their families safe.