Amid tight security and hundreds of devotees, the 137th Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra began Sunday morning from the 400-year-old Jagannath temple with Chief Minister Anandi Patel creating history to be the first woman CM to perform the “pahind vidhi” (symbolic cleaning of the path for chariot of Lord Jagannath) with a “golden-broom”.
On the occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted people on microblogging website twitter. While he recollected his “fond” memories and “cherished” his experience of performing the “pahind vidhi” as the CM, he also prayed for peace, prosperity and a good monsoon in the country. He was the only CM who had performed this ritual for a record 12 times.
“As Gujarat CM, I had the honour to perform the pahind vidhi ritual during the Yatra in Ahmedabad. It is an experience I really cherished,” Modi tweeted.
“We bow to Lord Jagannath on this auspicious day. Today once again he sets out on his chariot, giving blessings to the people.My warm greetings to the people on the occasion of the Rath Yatra that would be held across India today,” Modi said on the microblogging site twitter.
Modi also said, “We pray to Lord Jagannath for peace, prosperity and happiness in India. May Lord Jagannath bless us with good monsoon that will help farmers.”
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On Sunday, Patel reached Jagannath temple at around 6.45 am and performed the pahind vidhi. Then the temple mahant, Dilipdas Maharaj, performed the rituals with the three chariots carrying Lord Jagannath, Lord Balbhadra and their sister Subadhra that were being pulled by devotees announcing the yatra started.
“On Ashaadhi Dooj (second day of waxing moon cycle in the Hindu month of Ashadh), performed Pahind Vidhi to mark the beginning of Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath,” Anandi Patel said on twitter.
As many as 18 elephants led the Yatra followed by 98 trucks and a participation of 30 “akhada” and several “bhajan mandali”, the Yatra covered a distance of 14 kms traversing across the city. Nearly 2,000 priests are also said to have participated in the procession.
Various mandals and associations from across the state presented different theme based tableau covering social, religious, patriotic and even political themes lending different colours to the Yatra. The themes included beti bachao desh bachao, stop female foeticide, save environment, save water, religious unity, all religions as equal and mera Bharat mahan among others.
Hundreds of residents had thronged city streets across the route right from early morning to witness the yatra.
As per the tradition, the procession had a halt for maha bhoj at around 2 pm at Shreenath temple in Saraspur area that is considered as Lord Jagannath’s maternal uncle’s house where lunch is offered to the entire entourage.
After the halt, the procession covered second half of the route covering some of the sensitive areas including Kalupur, Prem Darwaja, Delhi Chakla, Shapur Darwaza, Dariyapur and Shahpur. It returned back to the Jagannath temple in Jamaalpur late in the evening.
Ban on stunts
The tight security, thorough checking of participants with their photo identification and a ban on stunts usually performed by akhada during the procession seemed to have slightly dampened the spirits of participants during the Yatra, this time. However, this had no effect on the devotees who were thronged in thousands to have one glimpse of the Lord Jagannath.
Ads on display
Despite a ban by the temple authorities on commercial advertisements on trucks and various other vehicles participating in the procession, there were several advertisements promoting various items including cement, pipes and even personal advertisements of doctors and their hospitals.
Act of Cops
Various policemen deputed as security on the trucks as per the “maximum 15 people and minimum 5 policemen rule” were seen distributing the prasad items to devotees on the way.
Several tableau dedicated to PM Modi
Not to miss, the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the highlight as several tableau were dedicated to him depicting various subjects through posters and masks and even men dressed and posing as Modi.
Different tableau carrying a replica of the Parliament with Modi, Modi with Chinese Prime Minister on his side, Modi among South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) leaders were some of the themes reminding about his Lok Sabha polls victory.
Interestingly, there was another huge tableau with Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel on one side, Narendra Modi on the other and Narmada Dam in the centre thanking Modi for the long pending permission to increase the dam’s height