Over three lakh devotees are likely to attend the annual Jagannath rath yatra, being organised by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), at the iconic Shivaji Park grounds here tomorrow. The rath yatra, planned by ISKCON’s Girgaum Chowpatty chapter, will begin at 3 PM from Shivaji Park and pass through Shiv Sena Bhavan, Plaza, Maruti Mandir, Pourtugese Church, Gokhale Road, Khed Galli, Silver Apartment and Prabhadevi.
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It will return to Shivaji Park by 6.30 PM on the same route, according to ISKCON spokesperson Lucky Kulkarni.
There will be 56 ‘bhoga offerings’ to the deity at 7 PM followed by ‘Mangal Yagya’ (ritual) by devotees at the Shivaji Park. ISKCON spiritual leader Radhanath Swami Maharaj will address the gathering thereafter.
“The rath yatra festival is a mass movement for enlightening people. The devotees believe that to take part in these festivals is a step forward towards self-realisation and by simply seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement for stopping the repetition of birth and death,” said Kulkarni.
A spiritual leader of ISKCON said, “The chariot festival of Lord Jagannath is celebrated every year by lakhs of people since ages at Puri in Odisha. Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON, decided to celebrate the festival all over the world as everyone cannot go to Puri.”
Prabhupada organised the first rath yatra in 1967 in San Franciso. Since then, it is organised all over the world -in the US, UK, South Africa, Europe, Poland, New Zealand, Australia and Mumbai, besides Puri in Odhisa.
Two years ago, devotees had organised a rath yatra in Pakistan also, he said.