Sunday, March 26

Rath Yatra 2020: Historic festival begins in Puri sans devotees

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For the first time ever, the Rath Yatra was held today in Puri without any devotees, making it a unique and historic event. Till Monday afternoon, it was unclear whether the annual festival would be held at all since the Supreme Court had earlier ordered a stay on it. But on Monday, after the apex court allowed the festival only at Puri, the state government and the temple administration swung into action.

The state chief secretary and Police DG rushed to Puri along with senior officials and ministers to make plans for smooth conduct of the yatra. Section 144 CrPC was imposed in Puri district from last night and will be in effect till noon tomorrow. Also, all servitors were tested for Covid-19 last night. “We took every possible step to keep devotees away from Badadanda. We are thankful that the people cooperated with us,” said Abhay, DGP Odisha.

All rituals of the festival were conducted this morning and that too on time unlike earlier years. The entire Badadanda was empty, with policemen keeping a close watch on public movement across the town, especially on the Grand Road. The pahandi bije or ceremonial journey of the Lords from the temple to the chariots started at 7 am and before 10 am, all the deities were on their respective chariots.

And after Gajapati Dibya Singh Deb performed chhera pahnara of the chariots, the rath pulling started around noon. Even during the chariot pulling, unlike previous years, very few servitors were atop the chariots this time.

Talking to media persons, the Gajapati said this Rath Yatra will become a part of history. “We should thank the devotees who followed the instructions of the Supreme Court and government and didn’t come to the Grand Road,” he said. Talking about the indecision regarding the festival till the last moment, he said the Lord was testing his devotees.

Source:Times of India

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