In the wake of Gujarat High Court's stay on taking out the Rath Yatra procession of Lord Jagannath in Ahmedabad in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the temple authorities decided to move the chariot of the deity within the premises of the religious structure on Monday. Chief priest of the Lord Jagannath Temple, Mahant Dilip Dasji Maharaj, on Sunday said that the 143rd Rath Yatra will not be taken out on its usual route.
The Gujarat High Court had Saturday evening ordered stay on the procession, scheduled to be taken out on Monday, as it may spread coronavirus infection among people who would gather along the route of the event.
"In view of the high court order, it has been decided to organise the 143rd procession at a small level- only within the temple premises- and not on a large scale as was the case in the past," the chief priest said.
He was speaking after a meeting of the Jagannath Temple Trust held in the presence of state Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja and DGP Shivanand Jha among other state officers.
"There is a possibility of spread of infection if the procession is taken out. It is important for devotees to stay healthy. They will keep getting the blessings of Lord Jagannath. Keeping this in mind, mangla aarti and other rituals will be held like every year. However, the rath (chariot) will only go around the temple premises and move within its boundary only," he said.
The chariot will stay within the temple premises throughout the day so that the devotees can take darshan while adhering to the social distancing norms, he said.
Taking to Twitter, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani welcomed the "timely decision" taken by the trustees of the temple of not taking out a procession in view of the pandemic.
Mahant Dilip Dasji said that as always, the Trust will invite Union Home Minister Amit Shah and other leaders to offer prayers on the occasion as they have been traditionally doing.
"This is the first time that the Yatra is not going out (along its usual route). We all respect the order of the Gujarat High Court. We are in the midst of the pandemic, and it is important to keep people safe from the infection," he said.
Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja, DGP Shivanand Jha and Ahmedabad police commissioner Ashish Bhatia visited the Jagannath temple on Sunday evening to take part in aarti and other rituals.