Kendrapada: Senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra on Saturday urged the Odisha government to allow Rath Yatra of Siddha Baladevjew in Kendrapada, also know as Tulasi Khetra.
Briefing the media here, Mohapatra said that there is a historical link between Jagannath Temple in Puri and the Baladevjew Temple. “As per the century-old tradition, Patta Bastra (silk clothing) of Jagannath Temple is sent to Baladevjew Temple in the Kartika month every year,” he said.
The BJP leader said that the government’s decision to conduct the rituals of Baladevjew on the chariots inside the temple premises was a gross violation of the temple tradition. “The government should allow construction of the chariot and chariot pulling by sevayats in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines,” he pointed out.
Government chief whip Pramila Mallick said the decision to allow Rath Yatra only in Puri without the devotees was taken in view of the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic in the state and to protect the people from contracting the virus.
On Rath Yatra at Baladevjew with COVID-19 guideline, she said no one can give the guarantee that there will be no gathering of the devotees.
“Who will give the guarantee that there will be mandatory COVID test for the devotees and no one will contract the virus?” Mallick questioned.
Interestingly, BJD leader and Kendrapada MP Anubhav Mohanty had written to Special Relief Commissioner PK Jena, urging him to direct the district administration to hold Rath Yatra of Lord Baladevjew by issuing SOPs.
The MP had also assured that he would extend all support and cooperation to hold Rath Yatra at Tulasi Khetra amid COVID-19 restrictions.
However, Bijay is not the lone voice from the saffron party. BJP National vice-president Baijayant Panda on Friday had urged the state government to take all necessary steps for the conduct of Rath Yatra to respect the religious sentiments of the people of Kendrapada.
Following a protest demonstration in front of the collector’s office, BJP district unit president Kishore Kumar Panda said that it was wrong on the part of the government to restrict the festival at Baladevjew Temple, the adobe of the elder brother of Lord Jagannath.
Several religious preachers and sadhus had also submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister through the collector over the issue.
A petition has been filed in the Orissa High Court seeking permission for conducting Rath Yatra of Sidhha Baladevjew in the lines of Puri Jagannath Temple.
The development came a day after members of various social and cultural organisations took out a rally in Baripada town demanding permission for Rath Yatra at Haribaldev Jew temple in Baripada. The Dwitiya Sreekhetra is the second most important shrine of Lord Jagannath after Puri.