Bhubaneswar: State Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik on Wednesday urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to ensure a quick decision over the annual Rath Jatra of Lord Jagannath after holding talks with Puri Shankaracharya and others keeping in view the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to the chief minister, the state Congress chief said while Rath Jatra is scheduled on June 23, construction of chariots for the trinity begins on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, which is on April 26 and logs for the purpose have already reached the holy town.
Therefore, the state government should immediately hold consultations with Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee and Jadadguru Shankaracharya and take a decision on the annual Rath Jatra festival at the earliest in view of the extraordinary situation caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, he said.
Stating that a well-thought plan should be prepared for the festival, Patnaik said opinions of servitors and civil society members should also be obtained on the matter.
Noting that there is little time left for the chariot construction to begin, Patnaik said the likelihood of the social distancing restrictions being relaxed at the time of theRath Jatra festival is also bleak. The situation this year is completely different. The entire mankind is facing a crisis due to corona pandemic. This is a very rare situation in our history, he said.
Therefore, a decision on the scale, shape and nature in which the Rath Jatra should be conducted and the steps required to hold the festival in a safe and disciplined manner need to be taken now itself, he said in the letter, copy of which was released to the press.
Apart from Puri, Rath Jatra is also celebrated in many other places, Patnaik said, adding that once a decision over the celebrations in Puri is taken, instruction can be issued for others accordingly.