Ensure only Covid-19 negative participate in Bahuda Yatra on July 1: Odisha CM
Odisha chief minister’s advice came at a time when the district administration and the Sri Jagannath temple administration have started testing for Covid-19 each and every servitor involved in temple rituals apart from those who pulled the chariots on June 23, the day of Rath yatra.Updated: Jun 27, 2020 14:34 IST
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday directed state officials to ensure that all precautions are taken during the Bahuda Yatra on July 1 when Lord Jagannath and his siblings return to the Jagannath temple on their chariots even as the state government launched a massive effort for testing 8,000 people including temple priests, police as well as officials of temple administration.
“The world is watching Puri. We must put our best efforts to ensure all precautions are taken. Please complete all rituals on time; Strictly ensure that only those tested negative participate in the rituals and the chariot pulling; I and PR (Information and PR department) must ensure the live telecast of Bahuda Yatra, Sunabesha, Adhar Pana and the Niladri Bije,” Patnaik said during a video conference with officials including those of Jagannath temple administration.
Thanking the temple servitors, Sri Jagannath temple administration, police and district administration Patnaik said that the Rath Yatra was organised very well.
The chief minister’s advice came at a time when the district administration and the Sri Jagannath temple administration have started testing each and every servitor involved in temple rituals apart from those who pulled the chariots on June 23, the day of Rath yatra.
As per Supreme Court’s order, around 1,400 sevayats of the temple had pulled the three chariots from the main temple to Gundicha temple over a distance of 2.5 km. The idols will be taken back to the 12th century Jagannath temple in the same chariots on July 1.
Puri district collector Balwant Singh said by the time the chariots are pulled back to the main temple, at least 8,000 persons involved with Rath Yatra would have been tested for Covid-19, some of them twice. “For a population of 2.5 lakh in Puri town, the number of tests that are being conducted is very high, around 32,000 per million population,” he said.
“While close to 900 servitors were tested before the Snana Purnima festival on June 5, we got 1100 more servitors tested a day before Rath Yatra started to comply with the SC guidelines of only allowing those with Covid-19 negative reports to be involved in the festival. After June 23, we plan to test 6,000 more including policemen, all temple servitors, temple officials, sanitary staff and even electricity workers. We are re-testing the servitors who earlier tested negative and are staying in quarantine,” said Singh.
The servitors who take part in Rath yatra do not normally step out or eat food outside. “This time we are taking additional precautions and had a discussion with Chhatisa Nijog, the apex body of the temple priests,” the collector said.
During the Covid-19 test of the temple servitors on June 22, a 20-year-old servitor had tested positive. However, 40 of his primary contacts including 14 of his family members all tested negative.