'Gajapati Maharaja' of Puri, Dibyasingha Deb on Tuesday appealed to devotees and religious institutions to celebrate Lord Jagannath's annual Rath Jatra (chariot festival) on the particular day as being observed by the 12th-century shrine in Puri. The Ratha Jatra of Lord Jagannath is celebrated on the second day of 'Sukla Pakshya' in the Hindu month of 'Ashadha' every year. The Trinity (Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra) return to their abode after the Rath Jatra on the 13th/14th day of the month of Ashadha, the Gajapati said in a statement.
Gajapati, who is considered as the first servitor of Lord Jagannath, issued this statement following reports that the International Society for Krishna Consciousness's (ISKCON) Ludhiana unit in Punjab will observe the Rath Jatra on November 17 this year. An FIR in this regard was lodged at the Singhadwara Police Station in Puri against ISKCON authorities on Monday.
Noting that he had made a similar request to ISKCON in 2008, the Gajapati said no one should violate the centuries- old tradition and culture by celebrating the chariot festival on any other day. The issue was also raised in the monsoon session of the Odisha Assembly where BJD member S R Patnaik had expressed concern over celebration of Rath Jatra by ISKCON on different days.
Meanwhile, a press statement released by ISKCON clarified that, "Unwarranted statements on Rath Jatra are incorrect as ISKCON has the highest regard and respect for the traditional practices for Rath Jatra and the sevayats in Puri Jagannath Temple. The statements that Rath Jatra will be observed in November do not represent the views of ISKCON in any manner." PTI COR AAM RG RG.
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