Odisha Channel Bureau
PURI: The annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath was held in Puri amid complete shutdown in this coastal Odisha district on Tuesday without public attendance to avoid spread of coronavirus infection.
The Rath Yatra was conducted after the Supreme Court on Monday lifted its June 18 ban on the conduct of the festival and ordered that bare minimum number of people be allowed to participate in the rituals.
The servitors performed the rituals since early morning marking the beginning of the Rath Yatra. The Pahandi procession to take out the deities from the main temple was also conducted in time.
The chariots of the three deities – Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra – were pulled on the Bada Danda (Grand Road) from the Jagannath temple to the Gundicha temple during the day. All the chariots reached near the Gundicha temple before evening.
The State government has ordered a 41-hour-long complete shutdown in Puri district beginning from 9 p.m. on Monday to ensure that no one came out of their homes to witness the Rath Yatra. Emergency services were allowed during the shutdown.
The Supreme Court has put 11 conditions for the smooth conduct of the festival. Only those tested negative for COVID-19 be allowed to pull the chariots and participate in the rituals associated with the festival, the court ordered.
The temple administration, which had made all arrangements previously, had swung into action soon after the court order and all measures were taken to conduct the Rath Yatra as per the orders of the apex court.
Fifty platoons of police personnel were deployed in Puri town to prevent any untoward incident during the festival.
Three Ministers of the State along with top officials of the State government and police were camping in the coastal town to ensure smooth conduct of the festival.
The conduct of the Rath Yatra was being telecast live on Doordarshan since early morning.
The live telecast by Doordarshan was also being run live on YouTube by the State government’s Information and Public Relations Department.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik greeted people on the occasion of the auspicious Rath Yatra.
Millions of devotees of Lord Jagannath, who greeted each other on the occasion, remained glued to television and social media channels to watch the Rath Yatra live.