Bhubaneswar/Puri: No chant of ‘Hari Bol’ and ‘Jai Jagannath’ reverberated through the air of Puri as the sibling deities adorned the ‘Hathi Besha’ after the ceremonial bath on Friday.
It was not only the devotees, who were missing from the rituals amid strict enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines and Section 144, but Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb was also conspicuous by his absence.
He was scheduled to perform ‘Chherapahanra’ ritual on the Snana Mandap (bathing altar) at 10.30 am. The ritual, however, was performed by Mudirasta, who officiates for the Puri King in his absence.
Later speaking to media, the Gajapati clarified that he abstained from the ‘Chherapahanra’ ritual in compliance with the government’s COVID-19 related lockdown guidelines.
As per the lockdown norms, religious functions cannot be attended by more than seven persons. Besides, persons over 65 years of age are barred from venturing out of their houses, the Gajapati said.
“This is the second time I couldn’t perform the ritual on Snana Jatra. In 1976, I was in USA for my LLM course and had missed the ritual,” he added.