Monday, 22 June 2020

The juggernaut grinds to a halt in India over COVID-19

India’s apex court stayed the rath yatra or the Lord Jagannath chariot festival in Puri due to the ongoing pandemic. The rath yatra is held every year in the beachside city of Puri in Odisha in eastern India.

Over a million pilgrims throng the festival where the three massive wooden chariots, bearing the Hindu deities of Jagannath or lord of the universe, Balaram and Subhadra, are pulled by hand by devotees.

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The festival falls on 23 June this year. Since the festival brings out pilgrims in large numbers which leads to high health risks the Supreme Court of India in Delhi ruled against holding the festival this year.

‘We direct that there shall be no ‘rath yatra’ anywhere in the temple town of Odisha or any part of the state this year’, the ruling reads.

Warning that the break of social distancing due to large festive congregations is dangerous and the spread of the pandemic cannot be stopped if crowd milled around the city, the judge said, ‘Did you know the word juggernaut comes from the word Jagannath and means something that cannot be stopped?

There have been protests against the court’s ruling by some devotees in Odisha.

Following the court’s ruling, this will be the first time in over 200 years that the gigantic raths or chariots would not rattle down the ancient city of Puri.

via Lonely Planet India

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