Supreme Court allows Rath Yatra in Odisha with restrictions

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Supreme Court allows Rath Yatra in Odisha with restrictions
Supreme Court allows Rath Yatra in Odisha with restrictions

Puri : Puri's famous rath yatra has been allowed this year with restrictions - with curfew and closed city entries, the Supreme Court said today, after petitions asking it to recall its earlier order, banning the hugely popular festival.

The state government will have to declare curfew whenever the chariots are pulled. It also has to ensure that each of the three chariots is pulled by a maximum of 500 people, which would include the police personnel and officials, the court said.

"There shall be an interval of one hour between two chariots. Each of those engaged in pulling the chariot shall maintain social distancing before, during and after the Rath Yatra." The court said as part of the detailed guidelines.

The seven-day long festival is normally attended by lakhs of people and the administration has been asked to mandatorily follow the restrictions and social distancing guidelines.

Soon after the initial comments of the court, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik tweeted saying "Jai Jagannath", and hashtag #RathYatra became a top twitter trend. Odisha has already declared a curfew-like shutdown that would begin at 9 pm (Monday) and continue till 2 pm (Tuesday).

The Rath Yatra from the Jagannath temple – the biggest temple of the Lord Jagannath in the coastal district of Puri -- is attended by lakhs of people from across the world.

"Only people tested negative (for coronavirus) and working in the Lord Jagannath temple can be part of the ritual... If Lord Jagannath will not come out tomorrow, he cannot come out for 12 years as per tradition," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the Centre, had told the Supreme Court.

Earlier, the apex court had banned all such events, saying that at such crisis situation mass events cannot be performed.