KENDRAPARA: All rituals related to Rath Yatra will be carried out on the premises of the 300-year-old Baladevjew temple, also known as Tulasi Khetra, at Ichhapur on Monday. Observance of the annual festival was restricted to the temple premises for the second consecutive year due to the prevailing Covid situation in the State.
Executive officer of Baladevjew temple Balabhadra Patri said, in view of the pandemic situation, it was decided to conduct all Rath Yatra rituals inside the shrine in adherence to the government directive and safety guidelines. “We have also not built a chariot this year for the festival. All the rituals will be performed symbolically,” he informed.
After the State government banned Rath Yatra elsewhere except Puri for the second time in a row, some devotees had approached Orissa High Court. However, their petitions were rejected. They then moved the Supreme Court seeking permission to hold the annual festival at important shrines across the State. But the apex court on Tuesday dismissed a batch of petitions observing that it would not interfere in the State Government’s order.
On the other hand, the car festival ban has come as a blow to the temple priests. “The nine-day festival is the main source of our income as many devotees attend the Rath Yatra. Both the waves of Covid-19 have dashed all our hopes to earn money ,” said Sarat Suar, a priest. The Baladevjew temple was built by Kujang king Raja Gopal Sandha during Maratha rule in Odisha in 1761 at Ichhapur on the outskirts of Kendrapara town.