New Delhi: The most revered and much-awaited Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra is scheduled to begin from June 23, Thursday this year. It is most significant and a major festival in Odisha, Bhubaneswar. Also known as the chariot festival, it happens to be a 15-day long festival which is celebrated with much gusto and fervour in the temple town of Puri, Odisha.
However, this year due to the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic, the Centre has left the decision of holding the Rath Yatra upon the state government after analysing the current health scare. But it has allowed the construction of the Raths (chariots) for the religious procession amid the nationwide shutdown.
Therefore the Rath construction in Puri has begun. Take a look at the pictures:
In a letter to the state government, the Union Home Ministry said construction of the chariots had been allowed in the 'Ratha Khala', which is situated on both sides of the Grand Road in front of the Jagannath Temple office and the Sri Nahar palace in Puri, subject to fulfilling conditions.
The green signal from Delhi came a day after the state government had sought the ministry's consent for undertaking the chariots' construction for the annual festival in the pilgrim town of Puri. No religious congregation should take place in the 'Ratha Khala' and complete segregation of people engaged in the chariot construction should be ensured, the ministry said.
However, the decision of holding the Rath Yatra, which is scheduled for June 23, would be taken by the state government, keeping in view the conditions prevailing at that point of time, the letter said. According to the guidelines issued for the ongoing lockdown, a religious congregation is strictly prohibited.
PTI quoted Bijay Mohapatra, the chief carpenter of the Lord Jagannath's Nadighosh chariot, as saying that the construction of the chariots was supposed to begin on 'Akshaya Tritiya' on April 26. "Already 12 days have been lost and now it will be a challenging task to complete the work in time," Mohapatra said.
Around 10 lakh devotees from across the country and abroad throng the seaside pilgrim town during the Rath Yatra every year.
During the month of Asadha in June or July, the presiding deities—Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra are taken from their Puri temple to Bada Danda to visit Mausi Maa Temple and complete the distance of almost 3 km to Shri Gundecha Temple on huge chariots respectively.
(With PTI inputs)