Lord Jagannath Rath's Yatra at Odisha's Puri started this morning. The Supreme Court yesterday modified its order suspending the massive event this year amid 'Jai Jagannath' chants in court. The top court allowed the rituals and festivities, but unlike other years, people can't congregate due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictures and wishes flooded Twitter since early morning.
The chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra are brought out of the temple every year. This takes place in Asadha, the third month of the Hindu Calendar. The nine-day festivities, celebrate the annual journey of Lord Jagannatha and his two siblings - Balabhadra and Subhadra - to their aunt's place at the Gundicha Temple, around 2.5 km away.
The rituals for Rath Yatra began at 3 am inside the Jagannatha Temple, built in the 12th-century. Lord Jagannatha and his siblings boarded the raths at 7 am at the Singha Dwara and the three chariots were to be pulled at around noon.
Lord Jagannath's chariot is 45.6 feet high and has 18 wheels. Lord Balaram's chariot is slightly smaller; it is 45 feet high and has 16 wheels and Subhadra's rath is 44.6 feet high with 14 wheels. The chariots are built every year with over 1,100 big logs of wood from mainly three species of trees - Phasi, Bhaunra and Asana. The titular 'Raja' of Puri uses a golden broom to clean the path of Lord Jagannath as he is taken to the chariot and priests sway beautiful fans for comfort of the Lord. Priests also ring bells and chant shlokas.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said holding Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra this year amid the pandemic is a big challenge. The state government has imposed a 41- hour curfew-like shutdown, starting 8 pm last night, in Puri. Brisk and thorough sanitization was carried out in Puri, particularly in the area where the main festivities will take place. The Chief Minister tweeted beautiful photos of Lord Jagannath "all decked up for the spiritual journey."
Award winning sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik wished people and posted his stunning sand art of Lord Jagannath on Twitter. "May Lord Jagannath bless all on the auspicious occasion of Rath Yatra .Mahaprabhu bless all with good heath, joy and prosperity," he wrote.
Jai Jagannath! May Lord Jagannath bless all on the auspicious occasion of #RathYatra .Mahaprabhu bless all with good heath, joy and prosperity.— Sudarsan Pattnaik (@sudarsansand) June 23, 2020
My SandArt at #Puri beach in Odisha . pic.twitter.com/TZb6N5y7F8
The district administration of Puri has ensured all COVID-19 guidelines are being followed. "We will be ensuring that the participants are wearing masks," said Balwant Singh, District Magistrate of Puri.