'Akshaya Tritiya' held inside Puri Jagannath temple

Coronavirus lockdown: 'Chandan Yatra', 'Akshaya Tritiya' festivals held inside Jagannath temple premises

On the possibility of holding the chariot festival of Lord Jagannath as per schedule on June 23, Deb said a decision in this regard will be taken after the lockdown.

 'Chandan Yatra' and 'Akshaya Tritiya' rituals marking the beginning of preparations for Lord Jagannath's annual Rath Yatra, which are held outside the Puri temple, were conducted inside the premises of the shrine on Sunday and in absence of devotees in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

Puri Gajapati Maharaja Dibya Singha Deb, who heads the Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee, had made it clear that these important rituals would be performed by select priests and servitors, and devotees would not be allowed to enter the 12th century shrine adhering to curbs imposed by the government to prevent the spread of the virus.

On the possibility of holding the chariot festival of Lord Jagannath as per schedule on June 23, Deb said a decision in this regard will be taken after the lockdown.

The second phase of the nationwide lockdown is slated to end on May 3.

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Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had held discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday about organising the Rath Yatra this year, as the centuries-old religious event plunged into uncertainty following the COVID-19 outbreak.

'Akshaya Tritiya' ritual, which heralds the beginning of construction of charriots for the Rath Yatra, is held at 'Rath Khala' outside the temple, while the 'Chandan Yatra' is organised in a sacred tank in Puri.

Both the rituals were performed inside the temple premises by priests and servitors who maintained social distancing norms, said Ramachandra Dasmohapatra, a member of the temple managing committee.

It was decided that no activities will be undertaken outside the temple premises in view of the ongoing lockdown, but the tradition was maintained by performing these important rituals inside, he said.

'Akshaya Tritiya' rituals were performed at a Mandap in the shrine premises.

As for 'Chandan Yatra', images of three deities are floated on a boat in a sacred tank in Puri and is held for 42 days. But this time, the ritual was performed using two huge tubs inside the temple premises, officials said.