The famous annual Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra which takes place in the temple town of Puri in the Odisha state commenced on 23rd June amidst the pandemic. It is believed that about one million devotees visit Puri during this auspicious 9-day festival every year.
However, in a historic first, the Supreme Court restricted devotees from participating in the festivities due to the ongoing situation around the world. Apart from this, the Supreme Court also placed several conditions for carrying out Jagannath Rath Yatra 2020.

Jagannath Rath Yatra 2020

Although the festival was completely called off a week ago, the court retracted its decision and permitted the historical event to take place with utmost precautions. This year, Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra is unlike it has ever been. While an ocean of devotees would emerge in the town during the festival, this time, such was not the case.

The court mandated an interval of one hour between the pulling of two chariots. Moreover, people pulling the chariots must maintain social distancing at all times, meaning, before, during and after the Jagannatha Rath Yatra. In addition to that, only up to 500 people were allowed to pull chariot. A 41-hour curfew was also been imposed in Puri by the Odisha government. The 700 temple priests pulling the three chariots were also ordered to undergo medical tests.

About Jagannath Rath Yatra Festival

The Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival held in Puri is also often touted as Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra, and is typically held in the month of June or July. Although a Hindu festival, it draws people of all faiths from all over the world. It commemorates the annual visit of Lord Jagannath – an incarnation of Lord Vishnu –, Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra to Gundicha Temple. The idols of the three deities are taken from Jagannath Temple and put in gorgeously decorated chariots. These chariots and then pulled and the idols are taken to Gundicha Temple, which is about three kilometres away.
Snana Purnima is a ritual that takes place before the Jagannath Rath Yatra festival. It comprises bathing the idols with 109 buckets of water. After this ritual, the idols are placed in isolation till the day of the procession as they are believed to be ill. It is believed that pulling the chariot frees one of all sins committed knowingly or unknowingly. After resting at Gundicha Temple for eight days, the idols are brought back to the 12th-century Jagannath Temple. This journey is referred to as Bahuda Yatra.

The Chariots
Lord Jagannath's rath or chariot, which is called Nandighosha or Garudadhwaja, is the tallest among the three and soars to a height of about 45 feet. It features 16 wheels, each of which is about seven feet in diameter. Lord Balbhadra’s chariot has 14 wheels that take it to a height of 43 feet. It is called Taladhwaja. Whereas, the chariot of Goddess Subhadra has 14 wheels and a height of 42 feet. The three chariots are beautifully adorned and pulled by thousands of devotees during Jagannath Rath Yatra in Puri.

About Jagannath Temple

Jagannath Temple which everyone sees today is believed to have been built in the 12th century by King Anantavarman Chodaganga of the Ganga dynasty. However, as per experts, a shrine existed on the site long before the construction of Jagannath Temple commenced. It is one of the Char Dhams and visited by hordes of Hindu devotees seeking to atone for their sins.

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Author's Bio: 

Sanjay pal is Professional Writer. He has more than 5 year experience in travel industry. Currently he is writing on Referral Bonanza Program and Flight Booking App.