Puri, June 23 : The annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra began on Tuesday in Puri after the Supreme Court granted permission to hold the annual chariot festival this year.
The idol of Lord Balabhadra has been brought to the chariot by priests and 'sevayats' for the Rath Yatra from Jagannath Temple in Puri. The Apex Court has permitted the state to hold the festival with restrictions in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. As per the order, it has allowed only 500 people to pull the chariots.
According to the police, an Additional Director General of Police is supervising the arrangements for the yatra. The pulling of every chariot is being supervised by a senior officer.
"We have done good arrangement for Rath Yatra after Supreme Court has found a midway to perform the Yatra here where the devotees can attend it from their houses, over the televisions and their smartphone. It is the safest way to be a part of the Rath Yatra from a remote area," said a police officer.
Performing artists, priests were also seen participating in the Rath Yatra.
A performing artist who was present ahead of the Ratra said, "Lord Jagannath likes to watch dance and I'm here to do the same and offer my prayers."
"We have come for the darshan of Lord Jagannath. I believe that now the corona will go away," a participating priest said.
The district administration has also ensured following of all health guidelines in the wake of COVID-19. "We will be ensuring that the participants are wearing masks and are following social distancing norms," said Balwant Singh, District Magistrate of Puri.
The Supreme Court on Monday modified its earlier order and allowed the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra in Odisha's Puri to be held with the coordination of the Temple committee, State and Central government without compromising with the health issue pertaining to COVID-19.
Apex had earlier stayed the annual Rath Yatra at Jagannath Temple in Puri, which is slated to be held on June 23, and all activities related to the gathering in view of the coronavirus pandemic this year.