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Upananda Brahmachari | HENB | Haridwar | June 18, 2020:: The Supreme Court Thursday stayed this year’s historic Puri Rath Yatra starting from June 23 and related activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, very unfortunately.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices Dineesh Maheshwari and A S Bopanna said that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens, this year’s Rath Yatra at Puri in Odisha can’t be allowed. The Court also issued directives to the Odisha State Govt to stop all Rath Yatra throughout the state this year.
One Bhubaneswar based NGO, Odisha Vikash Parishad moved the apex court to stop the yearly Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra of Puri in a pandemic situation, which generally attracts millions of devotees every year.
The Chief Justice said that Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow this year’s Rath Yatra to go on, as such a huge gathering can’t take place during the pandemic.
The bench also told Odisha government not to allow the yatra or pilgrimage procession and related activities anywhere in the state to avoid spread of coronavirus.
Obviously, the top court’s order came on a PIL filed by Odisha based NGO seeking cancellation or postponement of this year’s Rath Yatra, which continues for 10 to 12 days and is attended by millions of devotees from across the world.
The odd decision of the apex court created sharp reaction among the Hindu devotees and various religious bodies.
The Chairperson of Puri Mandir Prabandhan Samiti and the King of Puri Gajapati Maharaj Divysingha Dev told earlier to conduct this year Rath Yatra without any gathering of devotees under strict restrictions and control for avoiding the spread of Corona.
Accordingly, the making of Chariot (Rath) is about to complete and a Rath Yatra was planned with the limited temple priests and other temple contingents to perform essential rituals like ‘Pahandi’ (arrival of deities from throne- ratnavedi to get into the chariots). The Chariots were planned to be pulled upto Gundichabari by elephants or by machines.
But, the apex court could not consider any such options to allow Rath Yatra this year.
Puri Mandir Prabandhan Samiti will hold its meeting tomorrow to decide on next course of action.
Puri King Gajapati Maharaj Divysingha Dev is going to meet Puri Shankaracharya Nischalananda Saraswati to get his views in this crucial stage of postponement of Puri Rath Yatra.
Many Puri priest bodies tell that Rath Yatra may safely happen with only the temple priest and officials. Daily Pujas are happening in Jagannath Temple everyday maintaining social distancing and wearing masks there. As the Railways and Public conveyances are not in operation, then the crowd will not come. More restrictions can be imposed to check crowd can at Puri, Bhubaneswar, Cuttak, Bhadrak Railyway stations, Bus terminus and other entry points. Most of the Puri Priests say, It is not at all good to stop a tradition going on for centuries beyond.
It is learnt from source, Puri Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth Swami Nischalananda Saraswati may take the matter with Chief Justice of India in some hours.
1568-1577: Commander Kalapahar of Bengal Islamic Ruler Soleman Kirani attacked on Puri Jagannath Temple and other Hindu Temples in Odisha and Rathayatra was postponed for long 9 years at a stretch.
1601: Commander Mirza Khurram of then Bengal’s Muslim Ruler attacked on Puri Jagannath Temple and Rathayatra was postponed as Deities were hidden elsewhere.
1607: Mughal Subedar Kasim khan attacked all on a sudden Puri Jagannath Temple few days before Rathayatra and Rathayatra could not be possible anyway.
1611: Kalyanmal, the son of Todarmal, the Revenue Minister of Mughal emperor Akbar attacked on Puri Jagannath Temple for looting all the wealth of Lord Jagannath and Rathayatra was stopped. Then, Kalyanmal was posted as Subedar of Odisha.
1617: Kalyanmal again attacked 2nd time on Puri Jagannath Temple for looting gems and jewels of Lord Jagannath under the instruction of Akbar and Rathayatra was stopped.
1621-1622: Muslim Subedar Ahamad Khan attacked Puri Jagannath Temple. As the deities were hidden, Rathyatra could not possible for consecutive two years.
1692-1707: Muslim Commander Ikram Khan attacked vehemently on Jagannath Temple. The deities were hidden in unknown places for seven years and Rathyatra could not happen for sixteen years.
1731: Rathyatra was postponed due to attack on Jagannath Temple by Odisha’s then Nayeb Nazim Mohammad Taqi Khan.
1733-1735: Taqi Khan attacked Jagannath Temple 2nd time and Rathayatra stopped for three years.
__Inputs from PTI & Agencies.