Rukuna Ratha Jatra to be held sans devotees this year; Guidelines issued

Bhubaneswar: The famous Rukuna Ratha Jatra of Lord Lingaraj will be held this year but without participation of devotees, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) informed today.

The move came at a consultative meeting held with stakeholders of the Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar, on Thursday on the celebration of Ashokastami car festival scheduled on April 20, 2021.

At the meeting, it was decided that the car festival will be celebrated with strict adherence to the following COVID-19 guidelines:

1. No devotees will be allowed to participate in the car festival as well as return car festival

2. Only Sebayats will be allowed to conduct the car festival and return car festival.

3. The temple authorities to coordinate with BMC for sanitization of the chariot before putting to use.

4. All Sebayats shall have to undergo mandatory RT-PCR testing before 48 hours of day of Car Festival and Return Car Festival. Only those Sebayats coming out negative can participate in the festival.

5. Sebayats who are allowed for festival with negative RT-PCR reports shall have to use masks during the festival and maintain social distancing as per COVID Protocol.

6. The temple authorities to ensure thermal Screening of Sebayats on daily basis before allowing them for participation and also make provision for hand sanitization.

7. Other activities like food vendors/Meena bazaars/cultural functions and other kinds are strictly prohibited as it will lead to gathering and un-hygienic environment.

8. Burning of Fire Crackers during car procession or any other moments are strictly prohibited.

9. Spitting during the festival and chewing of PAN /Gutkha is strictly prohibited.

10. Sebayats with Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI)/Influenza Like Illness (ILI) like symptoms shall not be allowed to participate in the festival.

11. The guidelines mentioned above shall be followed scrupulously by all concerned. Any deviation will entail individual action as well as revoking this permission.

Last year, the Rukuna Ratha Jatra of Lord Lingaraj was suspended due to nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.

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