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Contrasting images of the iconic Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra from 2020 and 2019 – without the lakhs of devotees

Contrasting images of the iconic Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra from 2020 and 2019 – without the lakhs of devotees
Naveen Patnaik/Twitter
  • In a historic first, the Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra was held without the lakhs of devotees who gather to pull the chariots.
  • While the Supreme Court had initially put a hold on this year’s Rath Yatra, it revoked its stay order on Monday and allowed the Rath Yatra to take place.
  • A curfew was put in place in Puri from 9 pm on Monday and entry into the district was restricted to stop crowds from entering the city.

For the first time in hundreds of years, the Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra was held without the lakhs of devotees who gather to pull the chariots. The 12th century tradition sees the grand chariots of Lords Balabhadra, Jagannath and Subhadra taken out in a procession for 2.5 kms to the nearby Gundicha Temple.

While the Supreme Court had initially put a hold on this year’s Rath Yatra, it revoked its stay order on Monday and allowed the Rath Yatra to take place at the best judgment of the Odisha state government. “But we will not do any micro management of Rath Yatra. We will leave it to the best wisdom of the responsible state government. The State Government will act responsibly and contain the spread,” said India’s top court.

However, the Supreme Court’s decision was also met by dissent as people were worried about the spread of the coronavirus. One of the servitors at the temple had also tested positive for Covid-19 before the Rath Yatra.

The 500 priests attending the Rath Yatra were all tested before being allowed to take part. Odisha has over 5000 coronavirus cases in the state.





A curfew was put in place in Puri from 9 pm on Monday and entry into the district was restricted to stop crowds from entering the city.

A curfew was put in place in Puri from 9 pm on Monday and entry into the district was restricted to stop crowds from entering the city.
Dharmendra Pradhan/Twitter

The Rath Yatra without its iconic image of crowds gathered to pull the chariots was turned to people tuning into their television sets to watch the procession.

The Rath Yatra without its iconic image of crowds gathered to pull the chariots was turned to people tuning into their television sets to watch the procession.
Naveen Patnaik/Twitter

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik watching the live broadcast of the Rath Yatra. This was the first time in 285 years that it was feared that the Rath Yatra would be cancelled. For the pious event, lakhs of devotees from across the country gather just to catch a glimpse of Lord Jagannath and help pull the chariot.

Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik watching the live broadcast of the Rath Yatra. This was the first time in 285 years that it was feared that the Rath Yatra would be cancelled. For the pious event, lakhs of devotees from across the country gather just to catch a glimpse of Lord Jagannath and help pull the chariot.
Naveen Patnaik, Twitter/Doordarshan

According to the tradition, if Rath Yatra is not held in a year, it cannot be held for the next 12 years.

According to the tradition, if Rath Yatra is not held in a year, it cannot be held for the next 12 years.
Naveen Patnaik/Twitter

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