Bhubaneswar: Puri Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb today requested the State government to consider approaching the Supreme Court for a partial modification of its stay order on annual Ratha Jatra in view of COVID-19 situation.
In a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the Puri Gajapati said the Srimandir Managing Committee also sought the view of the Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati who is also having similar view of approaching the apex court to reconsider and modify its order to ensure the conduct of Ratha Jatra in Puri.
The letter further said the managing committee and the Chhatisa Nijog unanimously decided to appeal to the state government to immediately move the Supreme Court for a modification of the court’s order to allow the world-famous Ratha Jatra in Puri.
It said performance of the annual Ratha Jatra in Puri is sanctioned and mandated by sacred scriptures, such as Skanda Purana, Brahma Purana, Neeladri Mahodaya, Bamadeba Samhita etc.
“In the course of Odisha’s long history, Ratha Jatra has not been held only when conduct of the Jatra has become impossible as for instance during attacks by Mughal forces during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, when the Lords had to be hidden in remote places,” it said.
The present grave crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic is not a situation which renders impossible conduct of Ratha Jatra since as suggested by the temple managing committee at its meeting on May 30, 2020, the Jatra in Puri can be held without any congregation of general public and with the State government taking appropriate steps to prevent spread of COVID, the Gajapati’s letter said.
The conduct of the annual Ratha Jatra on the prescribed day is statutorily mandated by record of rights framed under the Puri Shri Jagnnath Temple Administration Act 1952. Under section 15 (1) of Shri Jagannath Temple Act 1955 the managing committee of the temple is statutorily bound to ensure conduct of Ratha Jatra in accordance with the record of rights, it mentioned.