Bhubaneswar: Hours after Supreme Court stayed annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri, the Odisha government said it would abide by the orders of the top court staying this year's Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath in Puri and elsewhere in the state due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The nine-day annual festival was scheduled to start from June 23.
The decision in this regard was taken at an emergency meeting of the Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik where the Supreme Court's order was discussed.
A resolution passed in the meeting stated that the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee has been asked to carry out rituals inside the 12th-century shrine in Puri in accordance with the apex court's direction, an official statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office said.
All district magistrates are directed to ensure proper implementation of the Supreme Court's order by religious committees and institutions conducting Rath Yatra every year, it stated.
The Supreme Court order should be implemented along with the Central and state governments' guidelines on COVID-19 management, the cabinet decided.
Noting that the decision of not holding the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath this year would "pain" all devotees, the Cabinet observed that, "Accepting Mahaprabhu's (Lord Jagannath) wishes is the real devotion and move forward in life."
"Lord Jagannath is the soul and identity of the Odia race. He is the guiding source of all the Odias. He has appeared in the form of Daru (wooden idol) for the welfare of the entire human race. He is the master and we all are temporary. Nothing happens in this world without his wishes," the Cabinet said in its resolution.
It also noted: "We have completely surrendered before him at a time when the entire world is fighting against the pandemic. Let Lord Jagannath save all of us from this crisis."
Apart from the members of the state Cabinet, the meeting was also attended by the advocate general, the working chairperson and the chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration, the development commissioner and law secretary.
Meanwhile, Jagannath Sena, a local outfit has given a call for Puri bandh on Friday protesting the suspension of this year's Rath Yatra. Members of the outfit also staged a protest in Puri.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court stayed this year's Rath Yatra, which is attended by lakhs of people from across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic and said "Lord Jagannath won't forgive us if we allow" it.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices Dineesh Maheshwari and A S Bopanna said that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens, this year's Rath Yatra at Puri in Odisha can't be allowed.
"Lord Jagannath won't forgive us if we allow this year's Rath Yatra to go on", CJI Bobde said, adding that as such a huge gathering can't take place during the pandemic.
The apex court's order came on a PIL filed by an Odisha-based NGO seeking cancellation or postponement of this year's Rath Yatra.