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WHAT IS JAGANNATH RATH YATRA?

  • Jagannath Rath Yatra is a Hindu festival Related to lord Jagannath, a form of Vishnu, which held at Puri in state of Odisha.
  • This annual festival is celebrated on Ashadha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashadha month). The festival commemorates Jagannath's annual visit to Gundicha Temple via Mausi Maa Temple (maternal aunt's home) near Saradha Bali, Puri.
  • During this event, devotees from all over the world come to Puri with an earnest desire to help pulling the Lord’s Chariot.Three 45 feet high chariots are to be pulled by Thousands of people and are to be travelled all around the city.
  • Lakhs of devotees participate in this festival.
  • This year the Rath Yatra is to be held on 23rd June 2020.

WHAT IS PLEA ABOUT?

  • Plea has been made by NGO named Odisha Vikas Parishad, through Advocate Ranjeeta Rahotgi.
  • According to the Plea, the Jagannath Rath Yatra should not be allowed this year, due to Covid-19 pandemic, which is scheduled on 23rd June 2020.
  • The Petitioner apprehends that if this celebration is repeated this year, the results would be ‘catastrophic’, as there is a possibility that lakhs of people will take part in it.
  • According to a Senior Officer of Odisha, ‘ if Lord Jagannath is taken out on roads, no one can stop people of odisha from crowding.’
  • The chart of Corona Positive cases are on high in Odisha and still growing very fast. On 30th May 2020 the no. of cases was 7,964 and on 15th June 2020 it was 11,502.

WHAT IS THE LEGAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE PLEA?

  • According to the Central Guidelines dated 30 May, 2020, it is up to the State Government to decide whether or not to allow such congregations, depending on the prevalent situations.
  • According to Section 30 of Shri Jagannath Temple Act,1955 State Government may pass any orders that may be deemed necessary for the proper maintenance or administration of the Temple or its endowments or in the interest of the general public worshipping in the temple.
  • Allahabad High Court allowed the recitation of namaz for the people so they can do prayer at home maintaining the social distancing.
  • ISKCON and Jhandewalan Temple o Delhi also cancelled the ‘Ram Navami’ and ‘Navratri’ celebrations to maintain the social distancing and to protect people from gathering.
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