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20 days to go, uncertainty looms over Rath Yatra | Ranchi News

Ranchi: Amid the daily spike in Covid-19 cases in Jharkhand, uncertainty looms over the fate of this year’s annual Rath Yatra at the famous Jagannathpur temple in Dhurwa on the city’s outskirts. The temple, built by Anni Nath Shadeo in 1690-91 on the lines of the original Jagannath temple in Puri, gets at least one lakh visitors every year during the yatra.
With just 20 days left for this year’s festival, the temple authorities are unsure if the festival will be possible this time. Authorities said that it will be the first time in the 300-year history of this festival.
With all religious places continuing to remain closed, the temple premises is deserted. The lone puja stall on the premises opened on Wednesday, but there were no customers. The elderly shopkeeper said, “Normall, the preparations begin at least a month before the festival. This year, things are different and temple authorities are in a fix whether to start preparations.”
At the basof the hill on which the temple is located, two workers were spotted repairing the gigantc wheels of the 30-feet tall rath. A worker said, “We started repairing the rath today after we were asked to start work. We will keep it ready in case government gives permission for the yatra.”
Talking to TOI, Ranchi MP Sanjay Seth, likely to become the president of this year’s rath yatra organising committee, said, “Uncertainty prevails, but I have requested both CM Hemant Soren and Ranchi DC Rai Mahimapat Ray to take a call on it soon. Just 20 days are left for festival.”
He added that they have also proposed the administration to at least allow the rituals even if the carnival is banned. Seth said, “I had a word with the temple authorities and everyone is of the view that permission should be given for the rituals without any mela or crowd. Whatever guidelines the government sets for rath festival, all will follow.”
The Ranchi district administration is waiting for state government’s call on the issue. An official said, “Although Covid-19 cases in the have stabilised, any decision on the yatra has to come from the government.”
Notably, two days back, while announcing guidelines for Unlock 1.0, Soren said any decision to reopen religious places will be taken only after the end of the lockdown. He had said, “We will think about religious activities only after the nationwide lockdown is over. For us, public safety is more important than anything else.”

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