Gujarat Rath Yatra to be simple affair due to coronavirus outbreak

PTI Ahmedabad, Gujarat Jun 01, 2020, 03.04 PM(IST)

New chariots are constructed every year, even though they are almost a replica of the previous year's chariots. The material is also fresh. Photograph:( ANI )

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Only three chariots, each to be pulled by 30 persons, will be taken out in the presence of temple trustees and priests.

The world-renowned annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in Gujarat's Ahmedabad will be held for the first time in 143 years without the accompaniment of troupes, tableau trucks, and massive crowds in view of novel coronavirus outbreak.

Only three chariots, each to be pulled by 30 persons, will be taken out in the presence of temple trustees and priests as part of the 143rd edition of the yatra on June 23, coinciding with "Ashadhi Beej", said temple trustee Mahendra Jha.

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"This will be the first time in 143 years that only three chariots will take part. Due to coronavirus pandemic, there will be no trucks carrying devotees, akhadas, singing troupes, tableaux. It will be a simple affair and we want people to catch it live on television this time," he told PTI.

Traditionally, the procession, led by chariots of Lord Jagannath, brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra, starts early morning from the 400-year-old temple and returns by late evening, the route full of people running into several hundred thousand, decorated elephants, some 100 trucks with tableaux, singers, akhadas etc.

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The procession comes back to the Lord Jagannath Temple after covering a distance of 18 kilometres in 12 hours.

"We will try to return to the temple as early as possible. All guidelines in place like social distancing etc will be followed strictly," Jha added.