Puri Rath Yatra IS TAKING PLACE sans devotees on June 23rd

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Looks like the unseen forces do find ways to manifest: two weeks after declaring Rath Yatra can’t happen, the Apex court has now allowed holding the annual event, but without the lakhs of devotees.

“The entire nation is delighted by the decision of the Honourable Supreme Court to ensure the #RathYatra goes on, Amit Shah, Home Minister of India tweeted. The annual festival involves ferring of Lords Balabhadra, Jagannath, and Subhadra on grand chariots through the city of Puri, which has been perennial since time immemorial.

Per tradition, if Puri Rath Yatra is missed for one year, it will not be conducted for the next 12 years. The pandemic and related risks of the spread of the virus prompted the country’s apex court to initially put a halt on the nearly 300-years old tradition. “Such gatherings can’t take place at the time of the pandemic. Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allowed the rath yatra,” the top court said earlier this month.

The recent ruling allows it to continue with restrictions, media reports confirm. “A ritual going on for centuries should not be interfered with,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who appealed to the Supreme Court, on behalf of the Center.

In 2019 Rath Yatra drew nearly 10 lakh devotees.

“If Lord Jagannath will not come out tomorrow, he cannot come out for 12 years as per traditions. While maintaining the precautions to ensure that pandemic is not spread, Odisha govt can impose a curfew for a day” he added, Business Insider reports.

The Supreme Court, giving a green light to the festival noted that it will not involve in ‘micro-managing’ and “will leave it to the best wisdom of the responsible state government.”

For the first time in 285 years, it was being feared the pious tradition that draws over 10 lakh devotees, could be stopped. This is such an event that has been conducted even during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, The Hindusthan Times noted.

A non-profit based on Puri plead to the Supreme Court to halt the event, citing lakhs of people gathering at one place could prove to be ‘catastrophic.’

However, the plea was met by dissent from across the country, and petitions were filed to re-allow the event. Hereditary chief servitor of Jagannatha told the top court in an application:

“Any interruption in the observance of this mandatory religious practice affects the very sanctity of the temple and all its future rituals as well as the faith of millions of devotees across the world who understand and revere the significance of the Rath Yatra.” 

The application argued that instead of doing away with all the whole events, it must be allowed to take place using earthmover, which will take less than an hour to complete the 2.8km journey from Shri Jagannath Temple to Gundicha Mandir, Hindustan Times reports.

“An absolute bar on the performance of such an essential ritual is not necessary to protect public health,” the application to the Supreme Court stated.

(Cover image courtesy of @IamMayank_ via Twitter)

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