Odisha Govt urged to take decision over holding Ratha Jatra after consultation with Puri seer, Gajapati

Bhubaneswar: Amidst uncertainty looming over celebration of Ratha Jatra this year following COVID-19 outbreak in Odisha, Union MSME & FAHD Minister Pratap Chandra Sarangi has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to take a decision on it after consultation with Puri seer, Gajapati and other stakeholders.

In a letter dated April 17, the parliamentarian from Balasore Lok Sabha Constituency appealed to Patnaik to instruct Srimandir temple administration for holding extensive consultations with Puri Shankaracharya Nischalananda Saraswati, Gajapati King Dibyasingha Deb before reaching any conclusion in the matter.

“I request you to kindly dispel all misgivings that emerge in the public domain by issuing clear-cut instructions to the authorities in Shree Jagannath Temple Administration to hold extensive consultations with revered HH Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth, Puri, respected Gajapati Maharaj, Scholars of Mukti Mandap, Daitapatis, Temple servitors and others in the light of prevailing situation before deciding the nature and scale of Rath Yatra celebration this year,” Sarangi wrote.

Since Ratha Jatra of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra has a deep and abiding emotional connect with people and the event has been continuing since thousands of years reflecting unique cultural identity of Odisha, he said that the recent media reports concerning ‘coronavirus casting a shadow on celebration of holy Ratha Jatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri’ have been deeply disturbing to millions of devotees across the world.

The Union Minister appreciated Odisha Government’s initiatives to sensitize people about maintaining social distancing to avoid crowd and mass congregation for containment of spread of novel coronavirus. He opined that holding Ratha Jatra during pandemic situation could be a tough affair amidst restrictions.

“The Rath Yatra, which is to begin on June 23, 2020, is certainly going to be affected by it, in terms of level of public enthusiasm and scale of participation. I sincerely believe that amidst restrictions, the festival should be organised as per age-old divine traditions, reflecting the unity of mind and sense of purpose of all the stakeholders,” Sarangi said in the letter.

Meanwhile, he has requested CM Patnaik to take immediate steps during lockdown to provide food grains to needy people, who are not covered under any food security scheme.

In a separate letter, he expressed his concern over a significant number of poor, destitute and homeless facing difficulties since they are not able to avail the benefits of the public distribution system (PDS) as they do not have ration cards.

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