COVID-19 lockdown: After Rukuna Ratha, uncertainty looms over holding Chandan Jatra in Odisha

Bhubaneswar: After suspension of age-old tradition of conducting Rukuna Ratha Jatra of Lord Lingaraj due 21-day nationwide lockdown clamped to fight COVID-19, now uncertainty is looming over organising Chandan Jatra at the centuries old Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar.

The servitors of Lingaraj Temple stated that If the lockdown continues to prevail even after deadline on April 14, the annual festival of Lord Lingaraj could not be held on the scheduled date.

Chandan Jatra is observed at all the famous shrines including Puri Jagannath Temple and temples across the state. Every year, it begins on holy Akshaya Trutiya and continues till Chandan Purnima, as per Hindu almanac. However, the festival is held for 22 days at Lingaraj Temple.

This year, Chandan Jatra is scheduled on April 26, the first day of the annual festival. If COVID-19 lockdown gets extended further, Chandan Jatra will be suspended as the rituals for the event could not be performed later on other days, the servitors stated.

According to lockdown guidelines, no religious event can take place during lockdown to maintain social distancing in battle against COVID-19. Under the rule, the annual sojourn of Lord Lingaraj on Ashokastami was suspended this year.

However, the temple administration will take a final call on conducting Chandan Jatra of Lord Lingaraj, said Kashinath Pujapanda, president of Pujapanda Nijog.

On the other hand, the servitors suggested the temple administration to make preparation for Chandan Jatra if the complete lockdown gets lifted on the scheduled date.

When asked to the temple administration in this regard, it said that the decision will be taken after withdrawal of lockdown in the state.

“The preparation for conducting holy Chandan Jatra of Lord Linagaraj will be held after withdrawal of lockdown. If the restriction period gets extended, no religious programme can be held as per the government guideline,” said Lingaraj Temple Executive Officer Prasanna Dash.

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