New Delhi: The Odisha government on Thursday (June 10) announced that devotees will be barred from participating in the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra that is held in Puri for the second year in a row due to COVID-19. The festival will be held under strict COVID-19 protocols with Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena stating that all the guidelines of the Supreme Court will be followed in letter and spirit.
“This year also, Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra will be held sans devotees in Puri. The administration has prohibited similar celebrations in other parts of the state,” Jena said.
The SRC has also said that selected individuals who return a negative COVID-19 test and are vaccinated will be allowed to take part in the bathing ritual of ‘Snan Purnima’.
“Curfew will be clamped on the holy town on the day of Rath Yatra. All restrictions imposed during last year’s event will remain in force,” Jena added.
The festival will be held for nine days as usual but with only 500 servitudes allowed to pull the chariot.
Devotees looking to see the festival will have to do through live programmes broadcasted on television and other means of digital casting.
Puri district is currently reporting 300 new cases of COVID-19 daily.
“Only essential and emergency services will be allowed during the festival. The vehicular movement to and from Puri will be restricted,” said District Collector Samarth Verma.