BHUBANESWAR: As the deities rolled out to their aunt’s place in their bedecked chariots, millions watched the historic Puri Rath Yatra on television and other digital media platforms.Generally, people from across the State flock to Puri well in advance of the festival but given the pandemic scare, they chose to watch it live from the safe confines of their homes after the Government requested them to stay put. Residents of Puri showed admirable restraint.
To ensure people are not deprived of witnessing the annual festival, the Odisha Government had taken all measures for wide coverage of the event across all platforms, said Information & Public Relations Secretary Sanjay Singh. While Doordarshan covered the event live and gave common feed to all Odia electronic media, the department also webcast the Rath Yatra which was available on I&PR department YouTube channel.
“Jagannath devotees all over the world watched it live and the digital viewership for Rath Yatra this year was much higher compared to the previous years,” said Singh. The total number of viewers watching the festival at a single point of time on YouTube on DD Bharati and DD Odia was more than 14,000. Doordarshan YouTube channel alone garnered more than 1 million viewership during the 9.56-hour-long live streaming.
Official of a leading Odia TV channel claimed that their viewership across the TV, web and social media platform is expected to have crossed 10 million on the day. “At least 28,000 people were watching our channel on YouTube at a time during the live streaming,” he said.
Social Media consultant of I&PR department Gopal Panigrahi said the viewership on digital platforms has increased significantly after the Covid-19 pandemic. Viewership on digital platforms of the State Government that includes websites and social media accounts of different departments will not be less than five lakh.
People from outside the State, mostly from West Bengal as well as abroad, remained glued to Rath Yatra live on the Odisha Tourism and Shree Jagannath Temple Administration website, Panigrahi said. After Odisha, most number of people watching Puri Rath Yatra live were from West Bengal. Officials said hashtags #RathYatra, #PuriRathYatra and #JayJagannath were trending on the micro-blogging site and helped ensure a wide coverage of the festival.