Puri Ratha Yatra: Chariot construction began amid Corona pandemic
By Our Correspondent, 16/05/2020, Agartala

Amid this Corona pandemic across the globe, construction of three chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra has began in Puri for the upcoming traditional Ratha Yatra festival. The festival is celebrated in a grand manner every year in Puri with devotees from different parts of the country and other parts taking part in Yatra to seek blessings from Lord Jagannath.

The construction of chariots has been delayed due to nationwide lockdown.Talking to Tripuratoday.com on Friday, the Chief of Jagannath temple Maharaj Shri Gouri Sankar Singhari said, “Around 150 workers are engaged to this construction work and all of them along with their family were screened before they were inducted in the work.”

He informed, “We have made all necessary arrangements for those workers. All of them will be kept under our supervision in our guest house run by our trust and the construction works will be carried abiding by all regulations from the centre.” The construction work has began after clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The activity of the Rath construction is allowed to be undertaken in the ratha-khala (a workplace of chariot-making) situated on both sides of the Grand Road in front of the temple office and the royal palace, subject to some conditions. As per the guidelines a complete segregation of the ratha-khala should be ensured.

However, the Maharaj has informed that as per the direction from the centre, the construction works and other related works are to be completed by June 22 and later after further clearance from the centre and depending upon the situation the Ratha Yatra festival will be held this year. Meantime, the Jagannath Temple managing committee, which met on May 4 last via videoconferencing, decided that if the Covid-19 lockdown is further extended and Rath Yatra cancelled, the logs of the chariots can be taken apart and used in the temple kitchen for preparation of the Mahaprasad.The Rath Yatra, scheduled on June 23, is the most important festival in Odisha attended by over million devotees who throng Puri town for the 10-day long festival. The temple doors have been shut since March 20 due to the pandemic. Only day-to-day rituals are being done by the temple priests.