Bhubaneswar, Jun 22: The Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra, also known as the chariot festival, began with much zeal and enthusiasm in Odisha a day after the Supreme Court modified its stay order and permitted the festivities without any public attendance, besides directing other precautions in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Rath Yatra happens to be a 15-day long festival. It commences on Dwitiya Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Ashada month which happens to fall on June 23 this year.
According to Drigpanchang, the Dwitiya Tithi began at 11:59 am on June 22 and will end at 11.19 am on June 23.
The holy festival is held in Odisha’s Puri and marks the journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra and Goddess Subadhra from their actual abode (the Puri Jagannath Temple) to the Gundicha temple.
Each of three raths or chariots would to be pulled by no more than 500 people who will be tested for coronavirus, a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said on Monday, after the Centre and the Odisha government supported holding the Yatra without any mass congregation stressing it is a “matter of faith for crores”.
If Lord Jagannath will not come out tomorrow, he cannot come out for 12 years as per traditions, the Centre had contended.
“Indeed, if it is possible to ensure that there is no public attendance, we see no reason why the Rath Yatra cannot be conducted safely along its usual route from temple to temple,” the bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and A S Bopanna, said.
The apex court also asked the state government to impose curfew in Puri city during the religious event in which lakhs of people from all over the world participate every year. In its order, the bench, however, sounded a word of caution that it was informed that in the 18th-19th century a yatra of this kind was responsible for the spread of cholera and plague “like wild fire”.