THE SUPREME COURT ORDERS THAT NO RATH YATRA SHOULD BE HELD IN ODISHA

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THE SUPREME COURT ORDERS THAT NO RATH YATRA SHOULD BE HELD IN ODISHA THIS YEAR IN THE WAKE OF COVID-19

-PRATHA WAGHMARE

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the Rath Yatra at Puri’s Jagannath Temple on June 23. In its order, the Supreme Court also said all activities related to it will be stopped in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. “In the interest of public health and safety of citizens, this year’s Rath Yatra at Puri in Orissa can’t be allowed,” the Supreme Court said.

Such gatherings cannot take place amid the coronavirus outbreak, it said, adding “Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow this year’s Rath Yatra, such huge gathering can’t take place during a pandemic.”

An SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde while hearing a plea seeking cancellation of the festival this year ruled, “We consider it appropriate that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens to restrain the respondents from holding the Rath Yatra this year. We direct that no Rath Yatra will be held in temple areas of Odisha.”

Hearing a plea filed by Odisha Vikash Parishad, CJI noted, “Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow this to continue. Activities related to the Rath Yatra is injuncted.”

Hearing a plea filed by Odisha Vikash Parishad, CJI noted, “Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow this to continue. Activities related to the Rath Yatra is injuncted.”

CJI further orders that no secular or religious activity associated with the Rath Yatra will take place this year. The matter has been listed for hearing after 4 weeks.

Solicitor General Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the petitioner during the hearing submitted that a congregation of lakhs of people cannot be allowed for the yatra amid the COVID pandemic.

“It will be impossible to contain such a large gathering. Even the Olympics have been postponed this year,” said the SG.

As per the legal news website, Live Law, intervenors repeatedly asked the CJI for the rituals to be allowed to continue as they are religious in nature.

While SG Tushar Mehta says the sensitivity of the matter requires that some rituals are allowed, the CJI refused to entertain the submission saying “The word ‘juggernaut’ comes from Jagannath; a juggernaut cannot be stopped. So, Lord Jagannath cannot be stopped by this.”

The Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, which is considered one of India’s biggest chariot festivals was set to commence from June 23 this year.

To mark the celebrations, the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra are pulled on the Grand Road from the Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple over a distance of 2.5 km.

Every year, lakhs of devotees throng to the coastal town of Puri to catch the glimpse of deities re-embodied after 19 years on chariots on the occasion of Rath Yatra, marking largest-ever religious congregation in Odisha.

For this year’s celebrations of the Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra, the Odisha Government had been directed to deploy heavy-duty machinery or elephants to pull the chariots.

The decision had come in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and to prevent the gathering of people.

 

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