Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) in the pilgrim town of Puri on Sunday finalised the schedule for the annual Rath Yatra and events related to the car festival.
The SJTA at a meeting with members of the Chhatisa Nijog (the apex temple body of servitors) decided that all those, including servitors, to be involved in the rituals, will have to undergo RT-PCR tests or complete two doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
All the events will be held without devotees as large congregations could trigger the further spread of COVID-19.
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Only servitors and temple officials will participate in the rituals, the meeting said.
Prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC will be imposed around the temple on Snan Yatra, the bathing festival of the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra, and nobody would be allowed to congregate on the Grand Road in front of the Temple, said Puri district magistrate-cum collector Samarth Verma.
The Snan Purinima on June 24, will start with the Pahandi (walking procession of the deities) at 1 am and end by 4 am.
The Chhera Pahanra (sweeping of the bathing place) ritual by Dibyasingh Deb, the titular king of Puri, is scheduled to be held at 10.30 am.
The deities will later be adorned with Gajanan Besha or Hati Besha (elephant attire) between 11.00 am and 12 noon.
The trinity- Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath – will be taken to the Anasara Ghar (sick room) as it is believed that they fall ill after taking the bath.
The return procession of the deities from the bathing pandal to the sick room inside the temple will take place between 5 pm-8 pm. The Anasara (sick) rituals will begin from that day and continue for the next 15 days.
SJTA Chief Administrator Krishan Kumar said the world-famous Rath Yatra will be held without devotees on July 12.
On the Rath Yatra day, the chariots of Lord Jagannath and his divine siblings are pulled along the Grand Road and taken to Gundicha Temple (aunts house), 3 km from the 12th-century shrine, and kept there for a week till the day of the return car festival.
The Rath Yatra procession will start at 8 30 am while chariot pulling will begin at 4 pm on July 12.
The Lord’s Suna Besha (golden attire) will be held between 4 pm-11 pm on July 21.
The Niladri Bijee, the return of the trinity to the main temple, will be held on July 23. The procession will start at 4 pm and end at 10 pm.
The rituals will be performed with bare minimum servitors this year, Kumar said.
The administration of Lord Jagannath’s temple in Puri is under the law department of the state government and the SJTA, which is responsible for management of the shrine.