The annual car festival of Lord Lingaraj, known as ''Rukuna Rath Yatra'', will not roll on the grand road in Bhubaneswar this year in view of the 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, an official said.
A miniature replica of the Rukuna Rath was showcased in the Odisha tableau during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi this year.
"We have informed the temple authorities that the Rukuna Rath celebration may not be possible this year as the government has banned congregations of more than seven persons as part of the social distancing measure against COVID-19," Khurda District Collector S K Rout told PTI.
The Khurda district collector is also the chairperson of the Shree Lingaraj Temple Trust Board.
The annual Rukuna Rath Yatra of Lord Lingaraj, the presiding deity of Bhubaneswar, is held on the occasion of ''Ashokashtami'', which falls on April 1 this year.
The age-old tradition of Lord Lingaraj that has been celebrated at Ekamra Kshetra (the ancient name of Bhubaneswar) will be interrupted due to coronavirus scare, an official said.
The construction of the chariot was on the verge of completion before the decision was taken, said chief carpenter Bata Krushna Maharana.
Raja Garabadu, a priest of the temple said the devotees of Lord Lingaraj consider the Rukuna Rath Yatra as the ''Papa Binashakari Yatra'' (a journey that eradicates all sins).
On the occasion, idols of Lord Lingaraj along with Gopalini (Parvati), Kumara and Nandikesvara and an image of Govinda are taken out in a chariot from Lingaraj temple to Rameswar temple.
The chariot is pulled by devotees from the Lingaraj temple to the Rameswar temple, also called ''Mausi Maa''.
The chariot is brought back to the Lingaraj temple five days later.