SC forced to overturn ruling, Rath Yatra goes ahead without devotees

The iconic Puri Ratha Yatra finally went ahead today sans any devotees in light of the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. This came after the Supreme Court overturned its earlier decision banning the yatra, and permitted authorities and the temple committee to conduct the traditional Rath Yatra at the Jagannath Temple in Odisha’s Puri with necessary curbs to prevent the spread of covid-19.

As per a LiveMint report

“An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde held an urgent hearing on a batch of pleas seeking modification of the court’s 18 June order staying this year’s Rath Yatra on Tuesday.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sambit Patra was one of the intervening applicants.

The Centre said the Rath Yatra can be permitted without public participation in view of the pandemic, saying the “tradition of centuries may not be stopped”. The Odisha government supported the Centre’s stand.

In its order, the court took on record the statement of the Odisha state and Gajapati Maharaj of Puri, chairman of the Puri Jagannath Temple Administration, that it might be possible to conduct the Rath Yatra “in a limited way without public attendance”.

The court observed that in “the 18th-19th century, a yatra of this kind was responsible for the spread of cholera and plague like wild fire”. However, the court said that it will not “micro-manage” the rituals and left it to the wisdom of the state, the Centre and the temple management.

The court ordered that all entry points to the city of Puri shall be closed during the festival. There will be a curfew in Puri on all days and all the time when the chariots are taken in procession. The state must also keep records of participants in the Rath Yatra along with details of their medical conditions after testing.

The court has put a cap of 500 people, including officials and police personnel, to pull the chariot, and each person must be tested for coronavirus. The committee must ensure that bare minimum number of people are allowed in the rituals. Everyone involved must abide by the social distancing norms and guidelines.”

On Thursday, the court had upheld a plea filed by an organisation called Odisha Vikas Parishad seeking to stay the annual Lord Shri Jagannath’s Rath Yatra in the state. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioner, and Senior Advocate Harish Salve, who represented the State of Odisha, both had asked for a complete stop on festivities. Union Government’s Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued against a blanket ban, but was overruled with CJI Bobde remarking, “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.”

“Why is the Shankaracharya in the scene?” asks CJI

As per legal site Bar & Bench, the Puri Shankaracharya’s name came up during the hearing yesterday-

The seat of Shankaracharya is a revered one in Hindu society. Adi Shankaracharya established four mutts (mathas): Badrikashram Jyotirpeeth in the north, Dwarka’s Shardha Peeth in the west, Govardhan Peetha in Puri in the east, and Sringeri Sharada Peetham in Chikkamagalur district, Karnataka.

The heads of each these 4 mathas are the Shankaracharyas. The Govardhan Peeth of eastern direction at Puri is now graced by Jagadguru Shankaracharya Nischalananda Saraswati-ji Maharaj as its 145th Sankaracharya. As one of the foremost Hindu religious authorities, especially in the East of the country, it is staggering why the CJI thought he should not have a say in one of the most important Hindu religious festivals in the East and rest of Bharat – the Puri Ratha Yatra.

But this is how Nehruvian secularism has functioned in the country – the secular state, including judiciary, have encroached into even religious aspects of Hindu Dharma. The following tweets express what every practising and believing Hindu felt when the CJI asked the question, “Why is the Shankaracharya in the scene?”

The Ratha Yatra in Puri is celebrated across the country, and especially replicated with fervor in Gujarat. But the Gujarat High Court on Monday refused to entertain an application filed by Hindu Yuva Vahini seeking a modification of the Court’s June 20 order through which the annual Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad that was scheduled to commence on June 23 stood cancelled.

Hindus might have won one battle today, but the war against their religion & way of life is still being waged


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