Puri, June 23 (LocalWire): Unheard and unseen in living memory, the Lord Jagannath today set out on his 9-day long sojourn without his convoy of loving devotees.
The Lord steps out of his home every year, at the call of his devotees, but this year, no devotees are to be seen.
Devotees of the lord of the universe watched the slow progress of his procession on their televisions, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to stay home this year.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself tuned in to watch the live screening of the Ratha Yatra on television, as the Lord made his way to his aunt’s place.
There is no throng of faithful devotees this year, ushering the Lord and showering their love on him as they do so.
Sirens of ambulances carrying the unconscious are not to be heard this time around.
There is no crowd to be seen anywhere, neither on the chariot nor on the rooftops or balconies of the houses.
The COVID-19 and the subsequent curfew have imprisoned the devotees within the four walls of their houses.
The Chariots of the Lords are being pulled only by the sevayats who have tested negative for COVID-19.
The Rathas rumble to the left and right in their slow, arduous journey towards the Gundicha temple.
Only a day ago, devotees across the world were dallying in suspense over whether the Lord would come out of his abode or not. It almost seemed as if Lord Jagannath would not be able to meet his devotees this year, as if corona had indeed won!
However, in the end, as all good endings happen, the Lord arrived, if only to bolster the hopes of millions of devotees across the world that not all is lost in the battle against corona.
The Supreme Court allowed the conditional observance of the Ratha Yatra, in recognisance of the devotion of millions of people.
In the midst of security forces and his sevayats, the Lord travels this year.
With Puri being sealed to travellers from outside the district and there being a curfew on the district itself, the Lord himself must feel the throes of loneliness, a direct consequence of the pandemic.
Devotees remained glued to their televisions, watching with tears in their eyes, the procession of the Lord moving through the town.
The pandemic may be ravaging lives throughout the world, but, for the devotees of the Lord, he stands as a beacon of faith, bringing cheer and hope to millions in the fight against the coronavirus.