New Delhi: With the Supreme Court allowing the historic Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, the Odia community in the national capital is in a festive mood. Various social media platforms have been flooded with congratulatory messages. However there is also the appeal to devotees to strictly follow safety guidelines of the apex court amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
‘Most auspicious occasion’
Pradumna Palai, assistant secretary of Delhi’s Jagannath Temple, said the Rath Yatra symbolises the Odia culture. It would have been devastating if the age-old tradition was broken.
“Lord Jagannath is the soul and identity of the Odia race. He is our guiding force. It would have been devastating if the Rath Yatra was not allowed. This is the time when the Lord comes on the earth to meet all his devotees. So this is the most auspicious occasion in every Odia household,” Palai said.
“We are not having Rath Yatra in Delhi temple this year. The idols of Lord Jagannath, Subhadra and Balbhadra will take a round in the ground inside the temple. However, devotees will not be allowed inside the temple,” Palai added.
Saroj Patnaik, from Odisha’s Ganjam district is also a resident of the city. “There is a festive atmosphere amongst the Odia community now. Everyone is depressed with the current health crisis but at least there is something to bring a smile on face. There is a flood of messages on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. This is the one aspect but another issue is about the safety and health issues in COVID-19,” said
“The chariot for Jagannath is approximately 45 feet high and 35 square feet and has 16 wheels. Normally, lakhs of devotees pull it but now it will be a devotee-less Rath Yatra. It will also be a herculean task to conduct it smoothly,” pointed out Patnaik.
Happy times amid COVID-19
Shipra Sarangi is happy that her parents, who are staying alone in Cuttack, have some reason to celebrate now.
“We are living in different cities and my parents are alone in Cuttack. They were anyway depressed in the current situation. The stay on the Rath Yatra further hampered their spirits. Now, they are happy and I can feel the happiness in their voice over the phone,” said Shipra. “We will follow all the rituals at home. It’s better to have a devotee-less Rath Yatra rather than not having it,” she added.
A renowned Odia scribe, who belongs to Puri, but stays here, said the Odisha government should ensure all rules are followed. These include social distancing and health-related safety norms.
“When you are allowing sentiments to overshadow reason, you have to ensure the health protocols are followed. It’s not about the 10 lakh people who would not turn up but it’s about the people who will be in close proximity with each other. Their safety is equally important” he said.