Puri: Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb acknowledged the role of Supreme Court and efforts of the State and Central governments in making the Rath Yatra possible amidst COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking to media persons after the crucial Jagannath Temple Managing Committee and Chhatisa Nijog meeting, the Gajapati said, “We are grateful to the Supreme Court which is in vacation, but opened to issue an order in this regard.”
“The Supreme Court set up a bench which partially modified its June 18 order to allow holding Puri Rath Yatra with COVID-19 restrictions in place. We are very grateful to the Centre and State Government which apprised the Supreme Court that a Rath Yatra sans devotees is actually possible. Had the Governments not convinced the apex court on strict adherence of COVID-19 guidelines, Rath Yatra could not have been possible this year,” the Gajapati said.
The prayers of one and all – devotees of Puri, Utkal Pradesh and around the world were answered by the Lord, he added, and urged all of them to watch the Rath Yatra at their homes. The Maharaja requested devotees not to come to Puri, and those in Puri, not to come to Bada Danda for the Rath Yatra.
The Rath Yatra will be covered by Odisha Government’s Information and Public Relations Department which would provide live feed to all private news channels. The media will be playing a role much more responsible than ever before this time in covering Rath Yatra. “It will be through you all, the devotees in Puri, Odisha, India and abroad will get to watch Lord Jagannath’s Yatra this year,” he said addressing the scribes present.
After the Yatra is over on Tuesday, and the Lords reach their birthplace, the Gundicha temple will be restricted for devotees. Similarly, on the day of Bahuda Yatra, restrictions will be imposed and devotees will be barred from entering Puri or the Bada Danda, said Gajapati, who is also the Chairman of Jagannath Temple Managing Committee.
“We all must remember that the Supreme Court and State Government reserve all powers to stop the Rath Yatra at any moment if there is any deviation from the conditions associated with conduct of Rath Yatra. Therefore it is very essential for all of us to ensure that all the restrictions and guidelines are strictly followed during the holy event,” the Gajapati said.
There were also discussions on whether Gajapati will be doing Chera Pahanra this year during Rath Yatra or not. However, the Puri King clarified and said that he will be certainly doing the sacred ritual on the chariots tomorrow. “During the Snana Yatra there were strict restrictions in place. However, now that the Supreme Court has allowed for the Yatra, Gajapati will be doing Chera Pahanra, with the blessings of Lord Jagannath.”
The King also expressed gratefulness to Shankaracharya of Govadhan Peeth, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati for his intervention in this matter. “After the orders were announced on June 18, Sankaracharya Maharaj expressed his desire that it should be reconsidered. The State Government took the words of Param Pujya Sankaracharya Maharaja with utmost seriousness and duly acted upon it.” A delegation led by the Gajapati will go to Govardhan Peeth and seek Sankaracharya’s blessings for smooth conduct of the Rath Yatra.
Law Minister Pratap Jena who was also present in the meeting, said, it is an opportunity and occasion for all of us to show the world that Rath Yatra can be held in an exemplary manner, amid COVID-19 restrictions. “We had a meeting of all senior officials including the Chief Secretary and the DGP. This was followed by a video conference with the Chief Minister.”
“Our objective will be strict adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines such as wearing masks and social distancing, which have been issued by the Centre and the State Government to check the spread of COVID-19. Devotees cannot come to Bada Danda this time. We request everyone to be at home, be safe and seek the blessings of the Lord,” Jena added.