In a bid to next month’s Rath Jatra in Puri free of Covid-19 infection, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (STA) on Thursday decided that all the servitors participating in various rituals of the deities will undergo multiple rounds of the Covid-19 test (RT-PCR) 48 hours before the festival, SJTA chief administrator Dr Krishna Kumar said.
“A detailed micro-plan is being made for setting up special medical posts during Ratha. Apart from the servitors, police personnel and temple officials involved in the Ratha Jatra arrangements will also be tested. The focus will be on the servitors who will pull the three chariots in view of the Covid-19 restriction,” said Dr Kumar.
Kumar, who headed a meeting in this regard, said the tasting will be done in four stages before Snana Jatra, before Gundicha Yatra, before Bahuda Yatra, and finally, 15 days after Niladri Bije. The Ratra Yatra is scheduled for July 11.
Considered as part and parcel of the social, religious, and cultural ethos of the people of Odisha, the Ratha Jatra is one of the main festivals of Odisha that commemorates the annual journey of Lord Jagannath and his siblings from the 12the century Jagannath temple to their aunt’s abode in Gundicha temples, 2.5 kilometres aways in Puri town.
During the Ratha Jatra, a million devotees come to Puri town believing that they would attain salvation by touching to ropes attached to the 3 chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra. After staying in Gundicha temple for 9 days, the three deities come back to Jagannath Temple on the 10th day in a return journey called “Bahuda Yatra”.
The SJTA chief administrator said a nodal officer will be appointed by the SJTA, Puri district administration, and CDMO office for close coordination on a day-to-day basis. An adequate number of masks would be distributed among the servitors during Snana Jatra and Ratha Jatra. To promote hand hygiene like last year, sanitisers would be distributed amongst families of servitors. The meeting will be held with members of various Nijogs to sensitize the servitors on do’s and don’ts to be followed during the conduct of the rituals.