June 20, 2020
By- Dikhyaa Mohanty
Three petitions in Supreme Court pleading to conduct the festival with curbs
The Supreme Court(Puri Ratha Yatra halted after 285 years) Thursday stayed the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri for the first time in 284 years because of the Coronavirus pandemic as it is feared deadly Covid-19 virus may spread due to congregation of lakhs of devotees.
After this decision, there has been irksome chaos among the devotees and some political parties. The first question which arises is why didn’t the Supreme Court(Puri Ratha Yatra halted after 285 years) made the decision before the construction of chariots commenced.
A few days earlier, thousands of people had assembled on the road connecting the Jagannath Temple(Puri Ratha Yatra halted after 285 years) with the Gundicha temple by maintaining social distance to sing ‘Bande Utkala Janani’.
Even on 5th June with the help of 800 servitors, “Snana Purnima” was conducted within the guidelines of the social distancing, and not a single devotee was allowed near the temple. All the 800 servitors had undergone the COVID test and were found negative.
The 800 servitors are in isolation for more than one month as of today. To which the protesters claimed that the State Government didn’t put to consideration to intercept the social gatherings regarding the previous events.
On Friday, three petitions were filed in the apex court, praying for alteration of the order and conceding the annual sojourn of the deities with austere restrictions.
One of the servitors’ body stated that a complete curfew in Puri town for two days before the festival or a complete shut down on the day of Rath Yatra, and sealing of borders to prevent any entry of outsiders could be taken.
With this Rath Yatra(Puri Ratha Yatra halted after 285 years) can be conducted placidly under the guidelines without any fear of Coronavirus. Even for the construction of the three chariots, 372 carpenters and blacksmiths were engaged for more than a month with strict compliance with the guidelines.
It was also stated that 500 to 600 persons were required along with the policemen for pulling the chariots, by maintaining social distancing. This is despite the fact that Puri is in the green zone and the infection which has been found is among the migrants returning from other states.