Countless devotees of Lord Jagannath burst into ecstasy across Odisha on Monday after the Supreme Court allowed holding of the historic Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra at Puri, as people from all strata were overwhelmed with joy.
The Supreme Court on Monday allowed holding of the Rath Yatra at Puri, which starts on Tuesday, with certain conditions, including that there would be no public attendance.
Modifying its June 18 order in which it had said that this year's Yatra cannot be allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the apex court permitted holding of the Rath Yatra after taking note of the Odisha government's stand that it 'can be held in a limited way without public attendance'.
Chants of 'Jai Jagannath' rent the air all over as the news about the Supreme Court giving its nod for holding the world famous car festival in the pilgrim town reached the state bringing cheers among people, irrespective of caste, creed and religion.
Gajapati Maharaja Dibyasingha Deb thanked the central and state governments for their support in making possible this historical event, which had earlier been stayed by the apex court on June 18.
"Bhabagrahi Mahaprabhu Shree Jagannath has answered the fervent prayers of countless devotees around the world," said the titular King of Puri, who is also the Chairman of Shree Jagannath Temple Managing Committee.
"I am indebted to the Honble Supreme Court for reconsidering its earlier decision and permitting conduct of the world famous Rath Yatra in Puri," said Deb, who is regarded as the first servitor of Shree Jagannath Temple.
A delighted Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik too chanted 'Jai Jagannath' as soon as he came to know about the Supreme Court's permission for the mega event.
Thanking the Supreme Court for giving a nod and the central government for its cooperation, Patnaik said: "It is all the Lords wish. We are ever ready to fulfil his wish."
Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the entire nation is delighted by the decision of the Supreme Court to ensure the Rath Yatra.
'Today is a special day for all of us, particularly our Odia sisters and brothers as well as devotees of Mahaprabhu Shri Jagannath Ji,' he said.
Chief carpenter of Nandighosh, the chariot of Lord Jagannath, said, "We are happy. Finally the Lord has responded to our prayers. It is a matter of happiness that the chariots are going to roll out on the Grand Road."
Expressing happiness, Union Petroleum and Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said the Supreme Court's permission for the Rath Yatra has brought cheers among the 4.5 crore people of Odisha and countless devotees across the globe.
The festival will be celebrated as per the directives of the apex court maintaining all COVID-19 guidelines, he said.
Speaking in the same vein, Union minister Pratap Sarangi said people are so happy that many of them are undertaking door-to-door campaign to tell others to stay at home and watch the Rath Yatra proceedings on television on Tuesday.
The chariots will be pulled by servitors and police personnel and the public must refrain from trying to congregate in the pilgrim town during the car festival, he said.
It was a special day for Aftab Hossen, who was among the first to move the Supreme Court seeking a review of its stay order on the festival.
The 19-year-old Muslim students joy knew no bounds when he came to know that the chariots of the Lord will be rolling on the Grand Avenue in front of the Shree Jagannath Temple in Puri on Tuesday.
Hossen, a student of Economics (Hons) in Nayagarh district of the state, said his faith in Lord Jagannath has been further strengthened following the development.
For Priyadarshan Patnaik of Jagannath Sena, a socio-cultural organisation, nothing is more important than the conduct of the Rath Yatra.
State Congress President Niranjan Patnaik said the age-old traditions and rituals will now be maintained, but stressed that utmost care must be taken to celebrate the mega festival with discipline and in accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines.
Bharatiya Janata Party's national vice president and former MP Baijayant Panda said it is an honour for the sentiments of 4.5 crore people of Odisha.
Odisha Law Minister Pratap Jena said everyone in the state is happy and the government is fully prepared to conduct the mega festival in a smooth and disciplined way.
Overwhelmed with joy, BJP MLAs from Puri and Brahmagiri, Jayant Saranti and L B Mohapatra, respectively, offered special prayers in front of the Lions Gate of the 12th century shrine in Puri and lit special lamps.
The BJP welcomed the development and said the annual exercise is a symbol of people's faith.
"This is a symbol of our faith. Best wishes to all devotees. I request everybody to follow health regulations. Jai Jagannath," BJP president J P Nadda said in his tweets while welcoming the SC's order.
Nadda praised Home Minister Amit Shah, saying his efforts paved the way for the resumption of the Yatra.
Due to the importance of the matter, the vacation bench of the Supreme Court heard the matter and took the decision, he noted.