Guwahati: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed India’s biggest chariot festival- the Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra held annually at Puri in Odisha scheduled from June 23.
Citing the COVID 19 pandemic situation, the apex court observed that ‘Lord Jagannath won’t forgive us if we allow this year’s Rath Yatra’.
The apex court observation came following a plea filed by NGO Odisha Vikas Praishad seeking direction to stay the holding of the Rath Yatra festival. The petitioner said that the festival which spans for 10-12 days and involves a gathering of several lakhs of devotees from across the world can be of high risk in this situation.
In the plea, the petitioner said that along with the rest of the country, Odisha too is facing an unprecedented situation due to Covid-19, where the lives of the common people are at a huge risk.
After the hearing, the SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India Sharad Arvind Bobde commented that such huge gathering can’t take place during pandemic.
“In the interest of public health and safety of citizens, we restrain the state from holding the Rath Yatra and associated activities. We direct that there shall be no Rath Yatra and associated activities this year”, the CJI ordered.
The bench noted that keeping the interest of public health and safety of citizens in priority, the Rath Yatra festival cannot be allowed this year.
The Rathyatra involves pulling the chariot of Lord Jagannath by the devotees as the Lord comes out of his temple during the annual event. The pulling of chariot involves close contact between the people, which violates the social distancing norms.
However, Solicitor general Tushar Mehta requested the apex court not to impose a blanket ban but to allow some rituals without public gathering.
All the temples, including the Shree Jagannath temple in Puri, have been closed across Odhisa since March 22 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.