Puri Seer Recommends Holding Akshaya Tritiya, Chandan Yatra Rituals Inside Jagannath Temple Amid COVID-19 Lockdown

Puri: The Akshaya Tritiya rituals, which mark the beginning of chariot construction for Rath Yatra, will be conducted inside the Jagannath Temple here.

After meeting Shankaracharya Swami Nischalananda Saraswati, Gajapati Maharaj Dibyasingha Deb informed the media about the seer’s recommendation to conduct the rituals of Akshaya Tritiya and Chandan Yatra inside the temple premises.

The Gajapati along with members of Jagannath Temple Management Committee, including chief administrator of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration (SJTA) Krishan Kumar, had met the Shankaracharya this evening to seek his advice on how to go about with the rituals amid the COVID-19 lockdown.

Besides closing the doors of religious places to public, the lockdown guidelines prohibit religious congregations, without any exception.

“I welcome the decision taken by all the stakeholders regarding the conduct of the Rath Yatra rituals keeping in mind the COVID-19 situation,” the Shankaracharya said.
The SJTA chief administrator said that a meeting will be held at 10 am on Saturday between the district collector-SP and the Nijogs to discuss ways to ensure smooth conduct of the rituals. He said that the decision to hold the rituals inside the temple was unanimous. “We are happy to have been able to strike a balance between tradition and the fight against coronavirus,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the Gajapati had informed that the rituals cannot be performed outside the temple as the committee has to abide by the guidelines issued by the Centre.
He had further said that a decision on Rath Yatra and the scale on which it can be held will be taken after the restrictions are lifted on May 3 and the Centre issues fresh guidelines to combat the virus.
The Puri king, however, said that the decision to conduct the festival amid COVID19 outbreak entirely depends on the Odisha government. “We want to request the governments at the Centre and the state to ensure that there is no obstruction in the rituals of the Lords,” he added.

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