Puri: Dispelling speculation over his participation in the forthcoming Rath Yatra, Gajapati Maharaja of Puri Dibyasingha Deb on Tuesday clarified he will perform the traditional Chhera Pahanra (sweeping ritual) of the sibling deities on the three chariots on July 12.
“I always accord a special place to the Rath Yatra as it the main festival of Odisha. I will perform Chhera Pahanra this year,” he told media persons.
Last year he had performed the ritual after the Supreme Court, in a dramatic turn of events, decreed in favour of organising the Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra in Puri, without devotees and following COVID appropriate behaviour. The SC ruling had ensured that the centuries-old tradition continued without any disruption.
The Gajapati had skipped the Chhera Panhara ritual during the Snana Yatra in June due to the prevailing COVID pandemic, giving rise to speculation over whether he would take part in the Rath Yatra.
He also said he will conduct the Chhera Pahanra during the Bahuda Yatra (return festival).
Welcoming the ruling of the Supreme Court which rejected review petitions seeking permission to allow conduct of Rath Yatra in places other than Puri, he said the apex court after taking note of the pandemic situation in the state has upheld the decision of the Orissa High Court.
Praising the steps taken by the Puri district administration during Snana Yatra, he said the administration should ensure that the COVID norms are strictly followed while conducting the Rath Yatra without devotees.
Last year too, he had skipped the Snana Purnima ritual but performed Chhera Pahanra on the chariots during Rath Yatra.