Hundreds of devotees pull the chariots during the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri.(PTI File Photo)
Hundreds of devotees pull the chariots during the Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri.(PTI File Photo)

Machines or elephants may pull chariots in Puri Rath Yatra this time instead of devotees

A PIL by an advocate had sought the High Court’s intervention for the use of machinery for pulling the chariots in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Traditionally, hundreds of devotees pull the chariots.
By Debabrata Mohanty| Edited by Sabir Hussain | Hindustan Times, Bhubaneswar
PUBLISHED ON JUN 14, 2020 07:18 PM IST

The Orissa High Court has directed the state government to consider deploying heavy-duty machinery or elephants to pull the chariots during Rath Yatra in Puri later this month so as to prevent the gathering of hundreds of people during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The HC’s order came in response to advocate Dillip Kumar Ray’s PIL seeking its intervention for use of machinery for pulling the chariots in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. On June 23, the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra would be pulled on the Grand Road from the Jagannath temple to Gundicha temple over a distance of 2.5 km.

“We are inclined to observe that deploying heavy-duty machinery or any other means like elephants, than the man power, for pulling the chariots, would obviously obviate the necessity of involving a large number of persons. It is therefore directed that this aspect should be duly considered by the Government while taking a decision for holding Rath Yatra, consistent with the guidelines issued by the Central and State governments. It is up to the State Government to decide whether or not to allow the Rath Yatra on June 23,” the division bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Biswajit Mohanty said Saturday while disposing off the petition.

The order was made available on Sunday.

The three wooden chariots of the three deities are quite heavy as they are made out of over 13,000 cubic ft timber. Thousands of devotees pull the chariots with sturdy ropes tied around.

After making their journey to Gundicha temple, the three deities stay there for eight days and return to the Jagannath temple on the ninth day in a similar fashion.

Earlier this month, Snana Purnima, the ritual bathing event of the three deities was held in the temple without the presence of a single devotee. Only the priests who tested negative for Covid-19 were allowed to participate in the ritual.

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