The Odisha government has decided to conduct the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath and his siblings in Puri without the presence of any devotees due to the ongoing second wave of the Coronavirus.
"Rath Yatra will be held on July 11 as per the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court last year," said Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Jena on Thursday.
"Pulling of chariots will be performed by Sevayats in the presence of police personnel and any other officials permitted by the SJTA. All the people attending the yatra must be fully vaccinated or should possess RT-PCR negative reports from 48 hours before the event," said Pradeep Jena.
Last year, the apex court allowed the Rath Yatra to happen on the condition that there should not be any public and all entry points into Puri be shut. It also states that each of the three chariots would be pulled by only those who test Corona negative and the number has been restricted to 500.
Dr Krishan Kumar, the Chief Administrator of Sri Jagannath Temple, said 88 people including 40 carpenters, 31 bhoi servitors, 13 blacksmiths and four temple officials are working since Akshaya Tritiya (May 15) to make the 3 chariots. He further added that the workers have been working wearing N95 masks.
This year, no Rath Yatra would be allowed in all other parts of the state including Koraput, Baripada, Kendrapara and Nilagiri in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rituals linked to Rath Yatra may be performed in temple premises.
A curfew will be imposed in Puri during Rath Yatra to restrict the entry of outsiders, Jena said. However, essential services including ambulances, medical shops and water supply will be allowed, he added.
As all the events related to the Rath Yatra are held without public presence, arrangements are being made by the officials for the live telecast of important events like Snana Yatra, Gundicha Yatra, Bahuda, Suna Besha and Niladri Bije.