Lord Jagannath's return car festival low-key affair in Bengal due to Covid

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Kolkata, July 20 (PTI) Lord Jagannath's return car festival was held in West Bengal on Tuesday in an austere manner with no public participation and the organisers stuck to basic rituals in the pandemic situation.

Like the main Rath Jatra nine days back, Tuesday's festival was also a low-key affair at the headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) at Mayapur in Nadia district, its Kolkata branch, at Mahesh in Hooghly district and other areas of the state.

'We used only one Rath and the route was smaller than usual,' ISKCON spokesperson Subrata Das told PTI.

Only 50 devotees were allowed to attend the event and the public and other devotees were requested to watch the programme online, he said.

At ISKCON Kolkata, the deities were taken from the Gundicha temple on Gurusaday Road to the temple premises on Albert Road on a big trailer but devotees were not allowed to walk along, its spokesman Radharaman Das said.

The accompanying devotees followed in cars and the return journey took a detour along roads only known to the police and the religious order officials to avoid crowding.

The rituals were held within Gurusaday Road and Albert Road premises and ISKCON Kolkata streamed live on its website.

At the over 600-year-old Rath Jatra festival of Mahesh, the deities were taken from the adjacent makeshift Gundicha to the main temple instead of covering the over one km route along G T Road like in the past.

'The rituals were streamed live on our Facebook page,' servitor Piyal Chakraborty said.

The fair selling knickknacks, food and tree saplings was not held for the second year in a row due to Covid-19.

At Belgharia Rathtala in North 24 Parganas district, the deities were kept in the temple and people wearing masks were allowed to enter in groups to have a darshan.

'Like last year, we did not pull the chariots with the Lord and his siblings inside,' one of the organisers of the decades old Rath Jatra said.

Children were seen pulling small chariots with the idols inside in different parts of the state. PTI SUS NN NN

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