‘Chariot construction for Rath Yatra must begin’

Puri: Construction of chariots for the world famous Rath Yatra will be taken up in a day or two. This was informed by Puri Gajapati Dibya Singh Deb here today while saying that the final decision lies with the State government.

After attending the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee meeting, the Puri Gajapati said the construction of chariots is a construction related activity and not a religious function. During the meeting, members of the Committee unanimously said the construction of Rath Yatra should begin at the earliest.

As per the fresh guidelines issued by the Centre and State government, construction activity is allowed in red, orange and green zones. As Puri is a green zone, activities for construction of chariots should not be stopped, he said, adding that the managing committee requested the State government to take decision in this regard soon.

Both Snana Yatra and Rath Yatra are held in June. By this time, the Centre will issue another set of guidelines and decision about the chariot festival will be taken after reviewing them, he said.

The managing committee said the chariots would be constructed at “Rath Khala”, near the temple administration office. “This Rath Khala is not a public place, but belongs to the Lord,” the Gajapati said.

Asked about whether Rath Yatra will be held, the Puri Gajapati said If the Centre says the chariot festival cannot be held, it cannot be organized. Safety of human lives is the top priority.

Collector, the SJTA chief administrator and working president of the Committee will monitor the SOPs provided by the MHA and State are followed. In the meantime, chariot construction must begin, Deb said.

The Rath Yatra is scheduled for June 23.

The Gajapati had previously said the management committee has adhered to the guidelines issued by the central and state governments and held the Chandan Yatra and Akshya Tritiya in the premises of the temple.

Two prominent ”Nijogs” (servitors bodies) have appealed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to not stop the annual Rath Yatra as it is linked to the emotions of lakhs of devotees.

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