Secular State orders blanket ban on Jagannath Rath Yatra for first time in 285 years

In yet another body blow by the secular Indian state on Hindus, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra will not be held in Odisha this year in light of the pandemic situation.

LiveLaw.in reports

“A bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde passed the order on a plea filed by Odisha Vikas Parishad seeking to stay the annual Lord Shri Jagannath’s Rath Yatra in the state, which is scheduled to take place on 23 June.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioner submitted that congregation of nearly 10 lakh people in Bhubaneshwar cannot be allowed for the yatra amid the threat of COVID-19 spread.

Agreeing with this, CJI Bobde observed ‘We are not allowing this. Lord Jagannath will not forgive us if we allow this to continue. Activities related to the Rath Yatra are injuncted’

The Court also ordered that no secular or religious activity associated to the rath yatra will take place this year in Odisha.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who represented the State of Odisha, also suggested that it would be better to stop the festivities.

Though some of the intervenors pleaded that rituals related to the Yatra should be permitted, the bench did not accept it.”

Even rituals without gathering disallowed, no alternatives considered

Union Government’s Solicitor general Tushar Mehta requested the court not to impose a blanket ban and instead allow some leeway by permitting rituals without gathering of public.

“We have enough experience to know that if we allow any religious activity then there will be a gathering…Lord Jagannath will forgive us,” CJI Bobde remarked.

Even a yatra with only priests (maintaining social distancing), alternative means of pulling the chariots (traditionally pulled by devotees) amidst tight security to prevent devotees from gathering, was not considered.

Furious Hindus started trending #RathaYatraShouldNotStop on social media, voicing their angst against this brutal suppression of their basic religious rights, despite practising Hindus agreeing to cooperate with authorities and limiting the procession –

Pre-meditated game by secular forces?

Many wondered why despite allowing various rituals related to the Yatra and even chariot construction to go on till now, the Naveen Patnaik led Odisha government suddenly decided to oppose the Yatra in Court and support its complete ban this year.

The obvious question was also raised that when no blanket ban was announced on Eid celebrations, which incidentally occurred last month when the country was under a stricter lockdown than it is today, why wasn’t the same consideration extended to an important Hindu religious festival like Puri Rath Yatra?

As per this HT report

“The Orissa High Court last week advised the state government to consider holding the Rath Yatra with elephants or machines, instead of humans, pulling the chariots. But this suggestion did not figure during the deliberations in the apex court.

The state cabinet headed by CM Naveen Patnaik last evening decided that it will abide by the order given by the Supreme Court on the Rath Yatra. The SC order and the state Cabinet decision, left not just millions of devotees fuming, but the priests shocked.

Senior servitor Binayak Das Mohapatra alleged that a conspiracy was being hatched against the Rath Yatra. “All preparations for the centuries-old annual festival have been wasted. It was an elaborate drama by the state government to hoodwink the devotees. What had not happened in the last 5 centuries became a reality today. The PIL was a state-sponsored act to not let the festival happen,” he alleged.

Similarly, chief priest of the temple and head of Chhatisa Nijoga, Janardhan Pattajoshi Mohapatra said that the car festival and Lord Jagannath were inseparable.

“The Rath Yatra is an integral and intrinsic part of the life of Shri Jagannath since thousands of years ago. The Rath Yatra and Sri Jagannath are inseparable and one must not mistake the annual 9-day festival as a mere festive procession that can be cancelled or postponed,” said Mohapatra.

“Total curfew can be imposed in the entire Puri city two days before the yatra and only policemen be utilised for pulling the chariots,” he insisted.

Puri king Gajapati Dibyasingha Deb, chairman of Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, too, expressed his disappointment and said that the temple managing committee meeting will be held soon to discuss the Supreme Court’s order.

“We will seek the opinion of Sankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati on this matter. Whether Rath Yatra can be held inside the temple in a symbolic manner or not, will be examined,” he said.

One wonders why Odisha Vikas Parishad’s PIL was even heard by SC when the Odisha High Court was seized of the matter. Is it because high profile lawyers like Mukul Rohatgi were representing the petitioner? This Supreme Court practise of special, preferential access to high-powered lawyers is an open secret by now.

The secular assault on Hindus of Odisha is not a new development – the sacredness of the temple town of Puri has been gradually desecrated over a period of time, just last year 900-year-old Emar Matha and other Hindu heritage structures were demolished as part of ‘infrastructure modernisation.’

Conclusion

We have seen this game before – some NGO is propped up to litigate against Hindu traditions and institutions, courts issue notice to temple committees and governments (who control most large temples) to respond, politicians get involved, Hindu devotees are made to run from pillar to post while secular entities indulge in double-speak and passing the buck, but eventually, all elements of the secular state combine to crush believing & practising Hindus. We saw this in Jallikattu, Sabarimla, Diwali cracker ban, Dahi Handi, Durga Puja timings and countless other cases – the script remains the same, only settings and players change.

This is the first time after 285 years that the Rath Yatra would not be held. The last time the festival could not be held was between 1733 and 1735 when Mohammed Taqi Khan, deputy governor of Odisha, attacked the Jagannath temple, forcing the shifting of the murtis to Ganjam district.

But today this centuries-old tradition which did not stop even during occuppation by foreign, hostile forces, is today summarily stopped by secular ‘Hindus’. This again shows that the relation between secularism and  Hindu Dharma is that of a predator and prey.


Did you find this article useful? We’re a non-profit. Make a donation and help pay for our journalism.

HinduPost is now on Telegram. For the best reports & opinion on issues concerning Hindu society, subscribe to HinduPost on Telegram.