NEW DELHI: An Odia Muslim has moved the Supreme Court with a fervent prayer - allow world famous Rath yatra at Puri this year as discontinuance of the
would ritually mandate its stalling for next 12 years.
Hailing from Itamati in Nayagarh district of
, Aftab Hossen sought modification of SC's June 18 order banning not only the Rath Yatra but also all religious and secular rituals associated with it. "There is anger all over Odisha. People are ready to self-abstain from Rath Yatra if it can be conducted by sevayats for the purpose of continuity in observance of the Jagannath culture and rituals associated with the religious tradition," he said.
In the long tradition of noted Muslim devotees of Jagannath, most noted being 17th-century poet
, Hossen through advocates P K Mohapatra and Harprasad Sahu said if for any reason there is a break in the annual Rath Yatra, "the same cannot be performed for next 12 years. So restraining Rath Yatra this year would mean stopping it for the next 12 years, which will seriously harm Jagannath culture."
Quoting the Puranas, Gita and citing traditions followed since time immemorial on Rath Yatra and Jagannath temple, which is one of the four most important pilgrimages for Hindus, Hossen said the Odisha government which acquiesced to the stalling of Rath Yatra because of the pandemic had allowed construction work of the three chariots for
, Jagannath and Subhadra. "Rath Yatra is dearest to people of Odisha, as it relates to culture, tradition, health and prosperity of mankind and self-respect of
irrespective of their caste, creed and religion," he said.
If the SC passed the order stalling Rath Yatra on a PIL filed by Bhubaneswar-based NGO "Odisha Vikas Prashad', another NGO "
jana Jagarana manch" moved the SC through advocate H N Rath giving details of 1,304 Covid-free persons available with the temple - 800 sevayats; 372 carpenters, blacksmiths and artists engaged in construction of the chariots; and 132 police with the temple - who could be asked to conduct the Rath Yatra without involving the devotees.
"A total of 1,304 persons are available. They are in isolation for more than one and a half months and all have tested negative for Covid-19. To pull each chariot, around 200 persons are required. Thus the total requirement is around 600 persons, which can be adequately met from the manpower pool of the temple and there would be no requirement of devotees to conduct the Rath yatra and related rituals.," the NGO said requesting the SC to recall its June 16 order and allow the Rath Yatra.
"The Cart Festival is very dear to 4.5 crore Odias and millions of devotees of Jagannath across the country and the world," it said. Apart from Hossen and the NGO, many other individuals and NGOs have also moved the SC seeking permission for Rath Yatra through a controlled regimen strictly monitored by police and authorities.