A tragic incident occurred during the annual Rath Yatra in Odisha’s Puri, where a devotee died of suffocation while pulling the chariot of Lord Balabhadra. The man was rushed to the Puri district headquarters hospital, but doctors declared him dead on arrival. According to the media reports, several other devotees were injured in a stampede-like situation on the grand road. The injured individuals were also taken to the Puri district headquarters hospital. 
Notably, the Rath Yatra is one of the largest religious gatherings in India. This year, the Yatra will be a two-day affair after a gap of 53 years, which has led to a higher turnout of devotees. 

In response to the unfortunate event, Chief Minister Mohan Charan Majhi announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the deceased’s next of kin. 

What Does Administration Says

According to the administration, the death was due to suffocation, clarifying that there was no stampede, even though a massive crowd had gathered to see and join the procession of Lord Jagannath, Devi Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra. 
Officials attributed the man’s death to the intense heat and humidity, along with the crowded conditions. They highlighted that ample preparations had been made, including the deployment of ambulances to handle such incidents. Despite efforts to cool the devotees by sprinkling water, many were seen being carried out on stretchers and transported in ambulances after collapsing.

President Droupadi Murmu Attends Rath Yatra

President Droupadi Murmu also took part in the yatra on Sunday. The chariots began their procession at approximately 5:20 PM, following a visit by Puri Shankaracharya Swami Nischalanada Saraswati and his disciples to the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra. The ritual of ‘Chhera Pahanra’ (chariot sweeping) was then performed by Puri’s titular king.