July 01, 2020
The Lord of the Universe
(Jagannath Maharaj ji).
I have no doubt whatsoever that any individual across the globe who believes in You has had his/her share of unimaginable and unforgettable experiences.
We come to know about – and marvel at – such experiences from those who have lived them. Like everyone else, I too have been blessed with amazing moments and feelings which I would treasure all my life.
The dilemma over this year’s Car Festival – whether to hold it or put it on hold – at a time when the world is reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic – has left an unusual effect on most of us.
Delivering the landmark judgement on June 18, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Justice S.A Bobde said Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow the Rath Yatra to go ahead despite the possibility of the spread of the deadly virus in view of the massive congregation of devotees taking part in the festival.
All sections of people were shocked after the news that the Supreme Court had ruled against the Car Festival this time went viral. To maintain the sanctity of the judiciary, few officials publicly pledged to obey the apex court verdict.
It was, however, clear from their body language that such assertions did not come out not of the heart. But it was not all over yet.
Suddenly, a bunch of youths and servitors got together and started protesting against the ruling with placards in front of the Jagannath Temple the same day (Friday evening).
Fortunately, I was there at the moment to see. But the scale of protest was not large or vehement enough to inspire confidence that there could be a last-minute change in the situation. “Oh, Lord! It’s your call whether You want to come out to the streets or not,”.
As I remembered, my sister literally told me while we were moving to puri to drop her from my home city since she resides at puri which had infused goosebumps in me that “If You come, you can take away all the pain and agony of your Bhakts suffering from CORONA and others as well. It’s a common belief among all Odias that You remove all difficulties and shower positivity amongst us once You are out on the streets on the occasion of Cart Festival,”.
In the meanwhile (Friday evening to Monday morning), there was not much protest in public as there was complete shutdown on Saturday and Sunday as part of the fight against Corona.
But the outcry spread like wildfire and grew progressively louder on social media. The protest that began on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) in Puri reached the PMO riding on the hopes of millions of devotees that a miracle could still happen.
The facts and arguments placed before the court about the preparedness of the Temple committee to carry out the Rath Yatra and the measures put in place by both the Central and state governments to ensure the virus doesn’t spread by making it a devotee-free Rath Yatra, just as was done in the case of the Snana Yatra, finally brought about the desperately awaited turnaround.
The verdict ultimately came at 3.30 PM on Monday, June 22 with the bench headed by the CJI overturning its own pronouncement delivered barely 100 hours before.
The SC said it would leave it to the Jagannath Temple Management Committee and the Odisha government to conduct the Rath Yatra in a very restricted manner without a congregation of devotees. The State assured the court that it would coordinate with the Centre to hold the Rath Yatra.
All devotees went wild with joy on getting the news about the reversal of the June 18 ruling. But it appeared unbelievable to me. “How come the CJI overturned its own ruling within no time?” I wondered.
No one knew who to question and what. But millions like me cried in happiness on witnessing live Your majestic march on the Grand Road.
Regards & Thanks