Arrangements are in place for Odisha’s Lord Jagannath Puri Rath Yatra to commence today. Just like last year, the festival will be held without the participation of devotees in view of the Covid situation. Chalking out a detailed security plan, the state police has deployed 65 platoons of force along with senior officers. The government has strictly prohibited devotees at the Grand Road in front of the 12th century shrine in Puri during the chariots procession.
The celebrations for Lord Jagannath’s annual Ratha Jatra began in Puri on Friday with the ‘Naba Jauban Darshan’ of the sibling deities. As the celebrations began, the state government had announced the imposition of curfew in Puri town from July 11.
As the Rath Yatra is slated to begin, President of India Ram Nath Kovind took to Twitter to extend his wishes to the devotees of Jagannath Puri. “My warm greetings and best wishes to all the countrymen, especially all the devotees in Odisha, on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath. I wish that with the blessings of Lord Jagannath, the lives of all the countrymen remain full of happiness, prosperity and health.”, he tweeted.
The state government has appealed to the people not to visit Puri during the festival, and instead watch the live broadcast of the Ratha Jatra on TV. To ensure this, all hotels, dharamshalas and guest houses on the Grand Road have been asked not to allow any tourist or devotee. They have been directed to vacate all boarders and guests. Usually, around 10 lakh people gather in Puri during Ratha Jatra.
Only sevayats (servitors) testing negative for Covid-19 and who have been fully vaccinated would be allowed to participate in the pulling of the chariots. Apart from this, here are some other mandates for this year’s Rath Yatra:
- The entire city has been divided into 12 zones. Besides 65 platoons, 10 senior officers of additional SP rank have been deployed for the festival. Apart from providing security, police will also ensure proper enforcement of Covid-19 guidelines like social distancing and wearing masks.
- Section 144 of CrPC has been clamped from 8 pm on Sunday and no shop or essential activity will be allowed on Grand Road. Only those with duty passes for Rath Yatra will be allowed.
- The Grand Road will be transformed into a green zone for emergency services wherein fire fighting vehicles and ambulances can ply.
The curfew will continue till 8 am on July 13, as per a notification issued by the Special Relief Commissioner’s office. Rath Yatra procession will begin at 8:30 AM. Chariot pulling will start at 4 PM today.