Only Authorised Servitors to be allowed to climb chariots during Rath Yatra in Odisha this year

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Representational Image: Rath Yathra at Puri, Wikimedia

Bhubaneswar, May 2, 2017: Following the controversy over last year’s chariot festival when common people and their family members were allowed to climb the chariots and touch the deities, authorities in Puri on Tuesday said that only authorised servitors would be allowed to perform rituals of Lord Jagannath this year.

Officials said only the servitors connected with Rath Yatra rituals of Lord Jagannath and his siblings will be allowed atop the chariots during the nine-day festival.

The decision to this effect was taken at the second coordination committee meeting held in Puri for smooth conduct of the annual Rath Yatra on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by Revenue Divisional Commissioner (Central) A.B. Ota.

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“Only sevayats (servitors) connected with the rituals of the Lords will be allowed to carry the deities and stay near them. Other than them, this year no one else will be allowed,” Puri Superintendent of Police (SP) Sarthak Sarangi said.

Sarangi said he has sought a clear-cut clarification from the temple administration as to who will perform the rituals of the deities.

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“Whatever list or instruction is provided to us we will implement it foolproof,” said Sarangi.

However, some servitors did not attend the coordination meeting.

“There is no lack of coordination between sevayats and district administration. One thing that is important for us is that the Lords’ niti (rituals) be performed with discipline. Everyone should have an attitude of dedication towards the Lords’,” said Arvind Agarwal, Puri district collector.

There were some disturbances during the chariot festival last year after the servitors allowed common people and their family members to touch the deities. (IANS)