The Supreme Court will on Monday hear the pleas seeking recall of its order staying this year's Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On June 18, the apex court had said that in the interest of public health and safety of citizens, this year's Rath Yatra at Puri in Odisha cannot be allowed and "Lord Jagannath won't forgive us if we allow" it.
While the Rath Yatra festival, held over 10-12 days with lakhs of people participating, was scheduled for June 23, the 'Bahuda Jatra' (return car festival) was fixed for July 1.
A day after the order was passed, some applications were filed in the top court seeking recall and modification of its order.
A single-judge bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat is scheduled to hear on Monday these applications, including the one filed by 'Jagannath Sanskruti Jana Jagarana Manch', which have urged the court to allow the Rath Yatra.
"Well-orchestrated plan" says Shankaracharya of Puri
The Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, today alleged that there was a well-orchestrated plan to stall Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra this year.
The Puri seer's statement comes after Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb and servitors sought Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's intervention for rushing an application for modification of the Supreme Court's order that put a stay on Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra.
They want the state government to seek permission from the Supreme Court for holding the car festival sans any congregation.
Dismayed over the cancellation of this year's Rath Yatra, the Shankaracharya said: "There is a well-orchestrated plan to stop the annual event".
In a video message, the Puri seer said: "On June 20, the Supreme Court could have accepted the review petitions seeking modification of its June 18 stay order. There are precedents of the apex court taking up important cases even during vacations."
"If Rath Yatra not performed this year, it cannot be performed for the next 12 years"
Besides this, a separate application seeking modification of the June 18 order has been filed by one Aftab Hossen, who has said that "as per the ritual of Lord Jagannath, the Rath Yatra is performed in every year and if one year it is not performed, same cannot be performed for the next 12 years".
Hossen, while urging the apex court to modify its order and allow the Rath Yatra, has said in his application that restraining the Rath Yatra this year would practically mean restraining it for the next 12 years and this could create "great repercussion and chaos" in the Lord Jagannath culture and rituals.
In its separate application, the 'Jagannath Sanskruti Jana Jagarana Manch' has said that as per the earlier direction of the Orissa High Court as well as decision of the state government, 372 people were engaged in the construction of three raths/chariots for more than one-and-half months and all were isolated, tested and found COVID-19 negative.
"Under the above facts and circumstances the applicant most humbly prayed that the order dated June 18, 2020 as passed by this court may be recalled and modified to the extent that the Rath Yatra ritual may be performed with the help of 500-600 servitors by following the guidelines, maintaining social distancing and with certain impositions and conditions," said the application, filed through advocate Hitendra Nath Rath.
Chariot artisans shed tears
The news that the Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra will not be held this year has left multitude of artisans, connected to the construction of the grand chariots, in tears.
The makers of the gigantic chariots, which are pulled by lakhs of devotees, include a number of biswakarmas (carpenters), blacksmiths, roopakaras (painters), darzis (tailors) and 'Bhoi' servitors who supply logs to the carpenters.
(With PTI inputs)