By LE Desk

Cuttack, June 24, 2021: Three weeks before the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath begins in Puri, the Orissa High Court rejected five petitions seeking permission to hold the festival of Rath Yatra in Kendrapara and Bargarh districts.

The petitions were filed by servitors of the Sidhha Baladevjew temple in Kendrapara district as well as the one in Bhatli area of Bargarh seeking a direction to the Odisha government to permit the festival with participation of only servitors and with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols, the Hindustan Times reported.

The Odisha government earlier this month had said the Rath Yatra will be held on July 12 only in Puri keeping in mind the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court while banning it in all other places of the state. The apex court last year had permitted the Rath Yatra to be held on the condition that there is no public attendance and all entry points into Puri remain closed. It also said each of the three chariots, would be pulled by not more than 500 people who were required to test negative for Covid-19.

Recently, 10 servitors engaged in the construction of chariots in Nilagiri of Balasore district were arrested for violating the Odisha government’s order. In Baripada town, known as second Srikhetra, people had staged a protest urging the state government to allow the celebrations of the annual Rath Yatra without devotees like Puri.

Deba Snana Purnima– the grand bathing festival of Lord Jagannath that marks the prelude to the Rath Yatra is all set to be held on Thursday morning at the Jagannath Temple. Only select servitors and support staff like government officials, police who have undergone RT-PCR tests and tested negative will be allowed to participate in the rituals.

During the Snana Purnima, Lord Jagannath and his siblings are bathed with 108 pitchers of aromatic and herbal water following which they fall sick. They retreat for the next fortnight to a secret chamber called Anasara before reappearing during Rath Yatra, according to the Hindustan Times.

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