Puri Ja­gan­nath Rath Ya­tra be­gins

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - SPOTLIGHT - De­babrata Mo­hanty letters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

BHUBANESWA­R: For the first time in its his­tory, the fa­mous Rath Ya­tra of the Ja­gan­nath tem­ple in Puri, Odisha, be­gan on Tues­day morn­ing with priests pulling the three colour­ful char­i­ots of the pre­sid­ing deities in the ab­sence of the tens of thou­sands of devo­tees who typ­i­cally throng the town ev­ery year for the an­nul event.

Around 1,500 priests of the iconic 12th cen­tury tem­ple milled around the wooden char­i­ots which they started pulling from the main tem­ple to the Gundicha tem­ple amid the beat­ing of cym­bals and drums in praise of the Lord Ja­gan­nath, Lord Bal­ab­hadra and God­dess Sub­hadra.

The pulling of the char­i­ots dur­ing

Nandighosh, Tal­ad­waja and Darpadalan­a - is the fore­most rit­ual of the festival. It was per­formed by the priests who had been tested for Covid-19 on Mon­day.The Supreme Court on Mon­day al­lowed the con­duct of the Rawth Ya­tra, re­call­ing its June 18 or­der that pro­hib­ited the event, but laid down strict con­di­tions, in­clud­ing a ban on pu­bic at­ten­dance and the im­po­si­tion of a cur­few in Puri the fes­tiv­i­ties.

The erst­while King of Puri, Ga­jap­ati Dibyas­ingha Deb, who is also the first servi­tor of the Lord, per­formed the Ch­hera Pan­hara, a rit­ual sweep­ing of the char­i­ots, be­fore they were pulled by the priests. “It’s hard to imag­ine Rath Ya­tra with­out devo­tees on Badadanda (Grand Road). But Lord Ja­gan­nath stepped out of tem­ple for the whole uni­verse.” Puri Go­vard­han Peeth Shankarach­arya Nis­cha­lananda Saraswati paid obei­sance atop the char­i­ots along with his dis­ci­ples.

Un­til Mon­day af­ter­noon, un­cer­tain­ity clouded the Rath Ya­tra as a three-judge bench of SC led by chief jus­tice SA Bobde heard dozens of in­ter­ven­tion pe­ti­tions seek­ing re­call of the court’s June 18 or­der.

The char­i­ots of the Hindu deities Bal­ab­hadra, Sub­hadra and Ja­gan­nath be­fore they move towards the Gundicha tem­ple dur­ing the an­nual Rath Ya­tra in Puri on Tues­day ARABINDA MAHAPATRA /HT PHOTO

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