By Madhava Smullen

When devotees at the ISKCON temple in Sydney, Australia, couldn’t organize their regular full-fledged outdoor Rathayatra festival due to COVID-19 restrictions, they decided to bring the whole city of Puri and a new custom-built chariot into their temple room for a small indoor Rathayatra.

Carried out in consultation with head pujari Bhaja Govinda Das, the event for the pleasure of Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra took place on June 23rd, the date of the official Jagannath Puri Rathayatra. 

Currently in the state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located, people are allowed to have 20 visitors in their home at any one time. Places of worship are allowed one person per 4 square meters (this does not determine the distance between people), meaning the Sydney temple room may accommodate 27 people. Masks are not compulsory in the state. 

During the Rathayatra celebration, a maximum of only twelve devotees were in the temple room at a time, most of them regular priests. The event was not open to the public, and was broadcast online.

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