The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, one of India’s biggest religious festivals, is underway on Tuesday in the temple town in Odisha amid the coronavirus pandemic.
About a million devotees converge in Puri during the festivities but this year people will not be allowed after the Supreme Court placed several conditions, including the imposition of a curfew in Puri during the festivities.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, said in its order that each chariot would be pulled by not more than 500 people, including officials and police, and there has to be an interval of one hour between pulling of the chariots.
The Odisha government has imposed a 41-hour curfew in the temple town and started Covid-19 tests of 700 temple priests who would pull the three chariots
In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning greeted the devotees, saying: “My heartiest greetings to all of you on the auspicious occasion of Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra. I wish that this journey filled with devotion brings happiness, prosperity, good luck and health to the lives of the countrymen. Jai Jagannath!”
In a tweet, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb greeted the devotees saying “I convey my heartiest greetings and good wishes to everyone on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra. May lord Jagannath bless us”.
On Monday, as the Supreme Court recalled its earlier order, which banned the hugely popular festival this year, and said the state government will have to declare curfew whenever the chariots are pulled. No more than 500 people are allowed to pull the chariots as per the new order and social distancing has to be maintained.