The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has urged the Supreme Court to review its last week order putting a complete ban on the Rath Yatra celebrations in Puri amid the Coronavirus outbreak.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate is strongly making a case for the famous Odisha event not to be cancelled as the top court had put a stop on all activities related to the annual religious celebrations that attracts a large crowd from all over the world.
VHP Secretary General Milind Parande on Sunday said that the traditional annual Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival) of Lord Jagannath in Puri, which has been conducted "uninterruptedly in a row for the last hundreds of years," should happen this year too. The Rath Yatra was scheduled to start on June 23.
Making a case, the VHP suggested that the chariot can be symbolically drawn by means of elephants, mechanical assistance or required number of well-tested COVID-19-negative perfectly healthy individuals working in the temple.
Parande in a statement said, "The Rath Yatra can be made possible at the holy Bada Daanda (Grand Avenue) even with all the public health protocols against the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in place. A way out must be found to ensure the annual continuity of the Yatra. In today's circumstances, it is hardly expected that a million devotees would gather in the Yatra." He also urged the Supreme Court to review its decision.
On Thursday, Chief Justice S.A. Bobde said even Lord Jagannath would not forgive the apex court if it allowed the celebrations amid the risisng cases of Covid-19. So far over 13,000 people have been killed in the country by the deadly pandemic.
The court had observed, "We direct that there shall be no arath yatra' anywhere in the temple town of Odisha or in any other part of the State this year. We further direct that there shall be no activities secular or religious associated with the rath yatra during this period."
But the VHP Secretary General said that it is the "conscientiousness and responsibility of the Government of Odisha" to take proper steps to ensure the nonstop conduct of this ancient tradition. Thus, the VHP has put the onus on the state government.
"The State Government has completely failed in fulfilling its duty in this respect. In fact, the Government of Odisha could not properly place and articulate all the facts, figures and aspects in this matter before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of Bharat," the VHP alleged.