The annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri finally began on 23 June amid the coronavirus pandemic. As I sit at home and watch the idol of Lord Balabhadra being brought out of the temple to the chariot by priests and sevayats, I am happy that this year, the state government has barred devotees from entering the temple premises to curb the spread of COVID-19.
For the first time in history, Jagannath Rath Yatra is taking place without the presence of devotees at the temple premises. The Rath Yatra is live telecast for everyone to seek their blessings.
To be honest, it’s a wish come true for us if we could be physically present and watch the idol of Lord Jagannath. But in this situation, it's better to watch it on TV and not risk our lives as well as those of others.
Many devotees were worried that the Rath Yatra would be cancelled, but thankfully, Supreme Court gave a go ahead for this historic event to take place at Puri with some restrictions in place.
Only 500 people are allowed to pull the chariots. The state government has imposed a curfew in Puri till Wednesday afternoon. Temple priests have undergone COVID-19 test and those tested negative have been allowed to participate in this holy yatra. The government officials carried out numerous rounds of inspection on Monday night before the Rath Yatra was officially began.
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