Puri temple to auction Rath Yatra telecast rights

The Puri temple administration is contemplating to auction the live-telecast rights of the Rath Yatra or the car festival of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, the three presiding deities of the Hindu shrine. AFP file photo

The Puri temple administration is contemplating to auction the live-telecast rights of the Rath Yatra or the car festival of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra, the three presiding deities of the Hindu shrine.

The annual, week-long religious event will be celebrated in Odisha's temple town in the first week of July.

According to sources, the government administered temple management committee has already issued papers inviting bids for the telecast rights.

The temple administration has put forward a few conditions for the bidders — they (the bidders) should have producing and broadcasting experience of at least five years and the winner will have to share the feed with the national broadcaster, Doordarshan, free of cost.

Apart from the main Rath Yatra, the bid winner will have the telecast rights of all rituals of the week-long festival which include Snana Purnima— when the three deities will have their holy bath after their short stay in anasara ghar or the sick chamber, Suna Besa— when the deities will be decorated with their golden attires, Bahuda Yatra or the return car festival— when the deities return to the main temple in their respective wooden Raths and the Pahandi Bije— the concluding ceremony of the festival when the three deities re-occupy their platforms inside the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine.

The move, which is being contemplated for the first time in the temple's history, has already triggered a controversy with some organisations and individuals including a section of the servitors of the important shrine raising their objections to it.

“Rath Yatra is not a cricket tournament. It is an important religious event. Therefore, it should not be commercialized. Otherwise, it will definitely hurt the sentiments of millions of Jagannath devotees across the globe”, said a servitor.

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