Puri: In a major decision pertaining to Puri Rath Yatra, the Jagannath Temple Managing Committee today proposed commencement of chariot construction for the car festival this year. A proposal has been sent to the State Government in this regard.
Addressing mediapersons after the Managing Committee meeting over video conference, Gajapati Dibya Singh Deb said, “‘Ratha Nirman’ is a construction activity, not a religious function. And as per the guidelines of the Centre and State pertaining to the third phase of Lockdown, construction activity has been allowed in all the three zones.”
Therefore, a decision was taken on construction of chariots, with consensus from all stakeholders, he said. We will ensure adherance to all guidelines and health safety measures while building the chariots in the ‘Rahta Khala’ (the open area on both sides of the Grand Road in Puri).
The Managing Committee was keenly waiting for the new guidelines by Government of India which were scheduled to be issued after second phase of lockdown. The decision today was taken in consultation with experts on Jagannath culture and tradition, said Gajapati who is also the Chairperson of the Jagannath Temple Managing Committee.
The ‘Pratista’ (warming) of construction activity which is done on Akshaya Tritiya is a religious function. This has been done on the premises of the temple. Similarly, after construction work is completed a religious ceremony is done. But the construction phase in itself is not a religious function or event, the Gajapati explained.
Puri is a green zone and construction activity has been allowed here. The Ratha Khala on either sides of the Bada Danda is not a public place. It is a space designated specifically for construction of chariots before Rath Yatra.
“We will widen and lengthen the ‘Rath Khala’, strictly adhere to social distancing norms and facilitate health checkups of the Sevaks engaged in the construction of the three Raths,” said Deb, adding that the Managing Committee has sent the detailed proposal to the State Government requesting permission to begin cosntruction of the chariots.