3 vital lessons for Hindus in Ratha Yatra Case

The review judgement in the Supreme Court has allowed the Puri Ratha Yatra to be conducted in a scaled down manner. The court said it will not ‘micro manage’, but leave the details to state govt and temple committee. It is pertinent to note that the review petition was filed by Odisha govt., after hasty consultations with Gajapati Maharaja of Puri, temple administration and Central govt. Apparently. PM Modi and HM Amit Shah took personal interest in the matter.

ratha yatra

The affidavit filed by the state govt proposed scaled down Yatra at only one place, Puri, and without any devotees. Readers might remember that this was proposed by the Chief Servitor of the temple and also mentioned by us in an older article. You can read it below:-

The issue mentioned in the article still stands and should be matter of frequent public discourse.

Essential religious practices

As we have seen, the issue in such cases is whether a particular practice is essential to a religion or not. If it is deemed to be an ‘essential religious practice’, it is covered under right to freedom of religion. Else, the practice can be regulated by the courts. Supreme court has abolished Triple Talaq recently based on this doctrine.

The biggest issue with this approach is that Supreme Court gets to decide whether a practice is essential to a religion or not. People can have different views whether this is correct or not.

In a religion like Hinduism, which is very diverse and has many local traditions, essentiality can have a local flavour. For example, Rath Yatra is essential in Puri, but not essential anywhere else. Similarly, Sabarimala has some unique traditions and rituals not found anywhere else.

Ratha Yatra case : 3 Lessons for Hindus

This episode has a three vital lessons for Hindus, that we should apply in other cases:-

  • The will to fight is very important. We lost in Supreme Court but appealed.We protested on social media, we wrote blogs, articles, rants and we ensured it was covered by mainstream media. Hindus everywhere, not just Odisha, felt connected to the matter. The unity strengthened the will.
  • It must be remembered that BJP has Hindutva as its core. However, in many cases its response leaves much to be desired. In this case also, it did not favor conducting the Ratha Yatra intially. However, after seeing the mood of Hindus, it changed its stance. You can hate BJP, but it is true that all political parties give in when janta feels strongly about an issue. This is the logic of democracy. This kind of pressure building is very important. Please remember similar U turns by the party in Sabarimala case and elsewhere.
  • Being articulate matters a lot. When you object to something, you must provide a viable alternative. The letter of Chief Servitor of Jagannath Sh. Pattajoshi as well as by Gajapati Maharaj should be read by all Hindus. The articulation of the importance of the Yatra, its tradition and the alternative is quite lucid in both the letters.

Letter by Gajapati Maharaja:-

Letter by Chief Servitor Sh. Pattajoshi:-

What must we aspire for?

Many Hindus wonder why such restrictions are not imposed on Muslim or Christian events, religious traditions etc. There are multiple causes. I have listed some of these below:-

  • There is absolute unity among these communities. This may be due to them being communal religions, or them being minorities in India. But, they have unity cannot be doubted. This unity is manifested in their capacity to bring people to streets{anti-CAA protests} and on social media too. This definitely becomes a factor when govts. and courts even think about interference.
  • They are very articulate or have articulate allies. They put forward their demands in a simple manner that can be understood by the common man as well as courts. Basically, they are very clear on their agenda and convey it equally clearly. This is often helped by their allies in academics and media.

We should try that these two conditions are also fulfilled by Hindus. How and when, is a question for another time. But at least no Hindu should act against Hindu interests should be our first goal. Remember, Susanta Padhi, who filed PIL against Ratha Yatra is a Hindu and an Odia.

It should be the case that govt and courts think twice before passing such nonsense orders. Comedians should think twice before ridiculing our Gods and Missionaries should not have courage to openly disparage our religion.

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