Rath Yatra low-key affair in Bengal amid COVID curbs



KOLKATA: Much like last year, the traditional gaiety on Rath Yatra was missing in Bengal on Monday as authorities at the much-revered Mahesh temple in Hooghly district cancelled all festivities in the wake of COVID-related restrictions, and ISKCON temples in Kolkata and Mayapur marked the occasion with muted celebrations.

At the Kolkata temple of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), which had to put off its 50th year celebrations amid the pandemic-induced curbs, arrangements have been made for Lord Jagannath’s travel in a carcade, along with his divine siblings, as part of the rituals.

No chariot will be taken out on the streets, in a departure from tradition.

In Mayapur, the global headquarters of ISKCON, a makeshift Gundicha temple has been set up on the courtyard, where the three deities — Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Devi — will be putting up for nine days.

In a similar vein, temple authorities in Mahesh performed all rituals, with just a handful of locals visiting the shrine to offer obeisance.

Smaller chariots rolled out on the premises of the temple to mark the journey of the deities to Gundicha temple.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee sent offerings to the deities at ISKCON on the occasion, official sources said.

Taking to Twiiter, she wrote, “Warm wishes to all on the auspicious occasion of #RathYatra! I pray to Lord Jagannath for the safety and well-being of all my brothers & sisters. Jai Jagannath.”

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