Today, Puri’s famous Rath Yatra began as a large number of priests and temple attendants gathered at the Jagannath Temple without devotees for the first time in history. This came in after the Supreme Court allowed the state of Odisha to hold the seven day chariot festival in a restricted manner amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In the colourful procession outside the iconic Jagannath Temple, the temple complex was sanitized before the rituals began. The priests took the idol of Lord Balabhadra to a chariot as traditional musical instruments played and others danced to its beats. Also, Puri’s King Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb swept chariots with a broom having a gold handle.
With only 500 people allowed to pull the chariots as per the new order, they need to maintain social distancing as well. But one can be part of the Rath Yatra only after being tested negative for coronavirus. An interval of one hour will be followed between the two chariots.
President of India Ram Nath Kovind extended his greetings on the occasion of Jagannath Rath Yatra via a tweet, here:
Greetings to everyone on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra, especially to the devotees of Lord Jagannath in Odisha.
May the Lord bless us with courage and determination in our fight against COVID-19 and bring us good health and joy.
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) June 23, 2020