VHP seeks conduct of Puri Rath Yatra

New Delhi: Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) Central Secretary General Milind Parande on Sunday said that the traditional annual Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival) of Lord Jagannath at Puri should be taken out this year.

The Rath Yatra can be made possible at the holy Bada Danda (Grand Road) even with all the public health protocols against the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in place, Parande said in a statement.

A way out must be found to ensure the annual continuity of the Yatra. In today’s circumstances, it is hardly expected that a million devotees would gather in the Yatra, he added.

 He also requested the Supreme Court to review its decision.

The VHP Secretary General said that it is the conscientiousness and responsibility of the Government of Odisha to take proper steps to ensure the nonstop conduction of this ancient tradition – the pride and identity of Odisha and Bharat – while surely protecting the public health, even during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

The State Government has completely failed in fulfilling its duty in this respect. In fact, the Government of Odisha could not properly place and articulate all the facts, figures and aspects in this matter before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Bharat, he said.

Parande also said that the Supreme Court should have heard all the concerned parties and stakeholders before delivering a verdict in this matter.

At least, the Shankaracharya of Puri Gobardhan Peethadhishwar Swami Nischalananda Saraswati Ji Maharaj, the trustees of the temple and the Yatra management committee should have been heard.

The chariot of the Bhagwan can also be symbolically drawn by means of elephants, mechanical assistance or required number of well-tested COVID-19-negative perfectly healthy and capable Sevayats (temple servitors), the VHP said.