HISTORIC Jagannath Rath Yatra held keeping in view lockdown norms: CM Navin Patnaik watched live telecast from office

President Ramnath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, WB CM Mamata Banerjee greeted devotees as the rituals for the world-famous Rath Yatra commenced in Puri on Tuesday, 23 June 2020 amidst restrictions necessitated to contain Covid-19. However, the sea of humanity was absent as in the previous years to watch the grand chariots of Lords Balbharda, Jagannath and their younger sister Subhadra, who later married Arjun, Mahabharata warrior moving towards GUNDICHA temple, 2.5 km away from the iconic JagannathTemple on the sea. After spending nine days at the Gundicha Temple, the deities travel back in the chariots, to the Jagannath Temple. Gundicha Temple is considered their aunt’s residence. It is a long story why Lord Krishna, the last of the tenth incarnations of Lord Vishnu, is called Jagannath in Odisha. The 500 priests ‘who attended the Rath Yatra were all tested before the Yatra. One of them was found to be positive and was immediately hospitalised without being allowed to take part in the festivities. According to the tradition, if Rath Yatra is not held in a year, cannot be held in the next 12 years. The Supreme Court judges including  CJI Bobde reversed their judgment when it was pointed out to them. Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik watched the live telecast of Jagannath Rath Yatra at his office in Bhubaneswar. He also released the special Ratha Jaytra issue of Utkal Prasanga, a magazine of the state government. The Pahandi ritual (procession) has also begun. The chariots of the Lords Jagannath and Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra were pulled only by the selective servitors and police officials. The rituals for the world-famous Rath Yatra have started with Mangal Aarati followed by Mailam, Tadaplagi, Rosha hom, Aabakasha and Surya puja. The Pahandi ritual was also conducted. The siblings Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra boarded the chariots at the Singha Dwara facing towards the Gundicha Temple by 10 in the morning. The Chherapahara ritual was held at 11.30 a.m. The chariots were pulled thereafter around 12 noon. After the Supreme court’s decision in favour of Rath Yatra, the District Administration has imposed curfew in Puri for the Yatra. The public has been requested not to enter any part of the district during this period. Around fifty platoons of police had been deployed. Only selective servitors and police officials were allowed to pull the chariots of the Lords.  Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has made a special appeal to the people of Puri to observe COVID guidelines and keep themselves and their families safe. President hoped that the Lord blesses everyone with courage and determination in the fight against COVID-19 and brings good health and joy to all. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted the nation on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra. In his message, Modi hoped that the occasion brings prosperity, health and happiness to the lives of people. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said this festival was telecast by DD at national level as suggested by National Vice President of BJP Jay Panda. The Minister also greeted the people on the auspicious occasion of Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra. (edited by PK Chakravarty)

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