New Delhi [India], April 18 (ANI): In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Union Minister Pratap Chandra Sarangi has written to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, requesting him to instruct the authorities of Shree Jagannath Temple Administration to hold extensive consultations with Shankaracharya of Puri Govardhan Peeth, Gajapati Maharaj, scholars of Mukti Mandap, temple servitors and others before "deciding the nature and scale of Rath Yatra celebrations this year".
In the letter to the Chief Minister dated April 17, the Union Minister said: "I request you to kindly dispel all misgivings that emerge in the public domain by issuing clear-cut instructions to the authorities in Shree Jagannath Temple Administration to hold extensive consultations with revered H.H Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Govardhan Peeth, Puri, respected Gajapati Maharaj, Scholars of Mukti Mandap, Daitapatis, Temple Servitors and others in the light of prevailing situation before deciding the nature and scale of Rath Yatra celebrations this year."
The Minister said the holy Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra and Devi Subhadra have "deep and abiding emotional connect with the lives of ordinary people". It has been, since ages, shaping the unique cultural identity of our state, he stated in the letter.
"In this context, the recent media reports concerning 'Corona Virus casting a shadow on the celebration of holy Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri' have been deeply disturbing to the people of Odisha and also to the millions of devotees across the world."
The Minister noted that the Odisha government, "in line with national thinking, is striving to sensitize people to avoid crowded congregation and maintain social distancing to contain the spread of Corona Virus."
"The Rath Yatra, which is to begin on June 23, 2020, is certainly going to be affected by it, in terms of level of public enthusiasm and scale of participation. I sincerely believe that amidst restrictions, the festival should be organized as per the age-old divine traditions, reflecting the unity of mind and sense of purpose of all the stakeholders," he said. (ANI)