Rath Yatra 2020 sans devotees begins in Puri


Puri: The annual Rath Yatra 2020 of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra is underway on Tuesday in Odisha’s temple town Puri amid the coronavirus pandemic.

About a million devotees converge in Puri during the festival. But this year, the festival is being celebrated in absence of devotees following the Supreme Court order.

The administration has imposed a partial curfew in Puri to desist the devotees throng the Bada Danda (Grand Road) during the festivities.

Even though devotees have been barred from participating in Rath Yatra 2020, the atmosphere was no less dense brimming with faith, tradition and reverence.

Amid blowing of conches and beating of cymbals, the deities were taken from the temple to the chariots parked in front of Singhadwara of Jagannath Temple.

The ceremonial procession of the deities is known as “Pahandi”.

The three deities were taken atop of the three decked up gigantic wooden chariots-Nandighosa (for Jagannath), Taladhwaja (for Balabhadra) and Devadalana (for Subhadra).

After deities are placed on the chariots, Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb will perform “Chhera Panhara”, which is scheduled to begin from 11:30 AM.

The chariot pulling will commence from 12 PM.

The chariots will be pulled to Gundicha temple, which is around 3 km away from the main Jagannath temple.

As per the Supreme Court order, each chariot should not be pulled by not more than 500 persons and they have to be tested for coronavirus.

“They shall be permitted to pull the chariot only if they have been found negative. The number 500 shall include officials and police personnel,” it added.

The SC bench directed that there shall be an interval of one hour between two chariots, and everybody involved in pulling the chariot should maintain social distancing before, during and after the Rath Yatra.

“The state government may also impose curfew in the city of Puri on such other days and during such time as deemed necessary. During the period of curfew, no one would be allowed to come out of their houses or their places of residence, such as hotels, lodging houses, etc…. to start with, the curfew shall begin tonight at 8 p.m.,” said the top court.