After the Supreme Court of India granted permission to conduct the annual Ratha Yatra amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the century-old festival has started with all its rituals being held under the strict supervision of the authorities. As a major relief, barely hours before the mega festival, Supreme Court on Monday had reconsidered its previous order and allowed to conduct Rath Yatra only in Puri. This year’s Rath Yatra will go down in the pages of history.
After the Pahandi Bije- a royal procession in which the deities are brought out of the temple to the respective chariots, several rituals were observed on the eve of the commencement of the divine journey.
Another famous part was the ‘Chhera Pahanra’ or the moping of the Lord’s chariot by the King of Puri. This ritual is very significant as the act of the king shows that there is no difference between a king and a sweeper in the eyes of the Lord.
Adhering to the Supreme Court’s guidelines, only 500 servitors and officials are allowed to pull a chariot this year, following the social distancing norms between the chariots. Millions of devotees confined themselves to their homes and watched the divine festival through telecasts & webcasts. Usually, this world-famous festival draws lakhs of devotees from across the world. Only during Rath Yatra, Lord himself comes out of the shrine, Srimandir, to meet and bless his devotees.
Over 50 platoons of the police forces are deployed for the smooth conduct of the Rath Yatra this year. All the entry points to Puri city are sealed by the State government and declared a shutdown from 9 PM yesterday. The restrictions will remain in force till 2 pm tomorrow.
It is considered extremely auspicious to catch a glimpse or to participate in chariot pulling during the holy Ratha Yatra.