Puri King asks Naveen Patnaik to move SC to modify order stopping Rath Yatra
In his letter to Chief Minister Naveeen Patnaik, the Puri King said the crisis caused by Covid pandemic is not a situation which renders it impossible to conduct Rath Yatra in Puri as it can be held without any congregation of the general public.Updated: Jun 20, 2020 23:18 IST
Two days after the Supreme Court stayed the Rath Yatra in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, Gajapati Dibyasingh Deb, the titular king of Puri, requested chief minister Naveen Patnaik to approach top court for modification of the order to permit the Rath Yatra only at Puri.
On Thursday, a three-judge bench, headed by chief justice SA Bobde had stayed the Rath Yatra scheduled for June 23, saying as 10-12 lakh people may congregate in Puri for the Rath Yatra, it would be appropriate in the interests of public health and safety of citizens to restrain the government from holding the Rath Yatra. Later in the evening, the state cabinet headed by the CM decided to abide by the SC order.
The SC judgement caused a massive outrage in Odisha with at least four intervention petitions including one by Chhatisa Nijoga, the apex body of priests of the Jagannath temple filing two intervention petitions in the matter seeking recall of the order and allowing Rath Yatra at Puri by adhering to the government’s guidelines on Covid-19.
On Saturday, several priests staged protests in front of the Jagannath temple in Puri demanding that the festival be held as scheduled.
The Puri king, who heads the management of the 12th century Jagannath temple, is considered the first servitor of the deities, had initially said he concurred with the state cabinet decision on not holding Rath Yatra. But after attending meeting of Chhatisa Nijog, he said that festival has not been stopped even in the midst of the worst natural disasters and epidemics
“The present crisis caused by Covid pandemic, is not a situation which renders it impossible to conduct Ratha Yatra in Puri as it can be held without any congregation of the general public. If Ratha Yatra is not held this year in Puri, it will hurt the religious sentiments of countless devotees around the world who watch the sacred Yatra live every year on electronic media. I request you to take appropriate steps for approaching the Supreme Court for a partial modification of its June 18 so as to permit performance of Ratha Yatra only at Puri,” wrote Divyasingh Deb in his letter to Patnaik.
The Puri king said that Lord Jagannatha is the Lord of the Universe and during this sacred festival he comes out of the temple and rides the chariot so that everyone can obtain his grace. “It is an established tradition of Sanatana Vaidika Dharma that the presiding deities do not at all leave their sanctum sanctorum. But Lord Jagannath himself created an exception to this general rule by coming out of the temple to bless all beings in the whole universe. This is one of the main objectives of the Ratha Yatra as mentioned in the sacred scriptures.”
He further said that managing committee of the temple is statutorily bound to ensure conduct of Ratha Yatra in accordance with the Record-of-Rights and Ratha Yatra in Puri should not be stopped, even if Ratha Yatra and other religious functions are not permitted elsewhere under Covid-19 restrictions. Citing a 1964 order of SC he said the Rath Yatra of Puri is unique which “requires special treatment” by the state government.
Meanwhile, Chhastisa Nijog, the apex body of the priests of the temple has moved two intervention petitions seeking recall of the June 18 order of the SC. Janardhan Pattajoshi Mohapatra, chief servitor of Lord Jagannath in his petition said that the Rath Yatra has an unbroken tradition and is an essential practice of the Jagannath temple.
Three more intervention applications have been filed to allow the conduct of the Rath Yatra. While Jagannath Sanskruti Jana Jagarana Mancha sought a recall of the Supreme Court order another intervention application seeking a partial modification of the SC order was filed by one Aftab Hossen, which argued that crores of rupees have been spent in construction of the chariots and Covid-19 tests of hundreds of servitors.