Bhubaneswar: In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed to contain them, the Rukuna Rath Yatra of Lord Lingaraj here could not be held last year.
This year’s situation is no different either as the second wave of COVID-19 casts a shadow on the observance of the festival.
With just 12 days to go for the Rukuna Rath Yatra, the chariot construction work is underway in full swing.
The annual Rath Yatra of Lord Lingaraj, the presiding deity of Bhubaneswar, is held on ‘Ashokshtami’ which takes place April 20 this year.
The Rath construction work was launched on Holi. By Thursday, the construction of four wheels of the chariot was completed. In order to complete the construction work in time, 16 Palia Maharana servitors, 35 Gaon Maharana servitors and 15 Behera Bhoi servitors have been working from dawn to dusk on a rotational basis.
After completion of the construction, brahmin servitors will perform some traditional rituals to consecrate the Rath. Then if the administration with consultation with the brahmin servitors gives a green signal, the Rath Yatra will be held. Devotees participate in the festival and pull the chariot along the Rath Road to Mausi Maa temple.
The second wave of COVID-19 may play a spoilsport. When contacted, executive officer, Lingaraj temple administration, Prasanna Dash said that the chariot construction work is underway at full speed. But the observance of the festival will depend on the BMC’s permission.
At the same time, shortage of coal has affected the construction work, it was learnt. Since the construction of the chariot is carried out following traditional methods, without employing any machinery, the Kamar servitors manufacture nails and other iron equipments required in chariot construction. For this, the required coal is made available to them by the Shree Lingaraj Trust Board and the administration. The servitors had to sit idle Wednesday as they ran out of the coal stock.