SC stays historic Puri Rath Yatra
The Supreme Court 18 June 2020 stayed this year's historic Puri Rath Yatra starting from June 23 and related activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices Dineesh Maheshwari and A S Bopanna said that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens, this year's Rath Yatra at Puri in Odisha can't be allowed. The Chief Justice said that Lord Jagannath won't forgive us if we allow this year's Rath Yatra to go on, as such a huge gathering can't take place during the pandemic.
- The bench also told Odisha government not to allow the yatra or pilgrimage procession and related activities anywhere in the state to avoid spread of coronavirus.
- The top court's order came on a PIL filed by Odisha based NGO seeking cancellation or postponement of this year's Rath Yatra, which continues for 10 to 12 days and is attended by millions of devotees from across the world.
- The Puri Rath Yatra is considered as one of India's biggest chariot procession which is held for a span of around 10-12 days.
- The procession begins from Puri's Jagannath Temple and witnesses huge gatherings of lakhs of devotees from around the world.
- During the Yatra or procession, devotees pull forward the chariot of Lord Jagannath. As part of Rath Yatra, the deities present at the temple of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Devi Sudarshan are placed on the Rath or Chariot.
- Puri Rath Yatra festival is celebrated every year to commemorate Lord Jagannath's annual visit to the Gundicha Temple through Mausi Maa Temple (maternal aunt's home), which is located near Saradha Bali, Puri.
- The Puri Rath Yatra chariot is made from the wooden logs which are supplied by Odisha government free of cost.
- These logs are delivered at the Jagannath Temple on the occasion of Vasant Panchami in January or February every year.
- The construction of chariot requires around 4,000 pieces of wood. The Odisha Government started plantation program in 1999 to plant more trees in forests as the government provides logs by cutting trees of the forests.
- Once the Yatra finishes, the chariot is dismantled and its wood is used in the kitchen of Jagannath Temple.