UNITED KINGDOM. London: In the Southall streets, worshipers pushed a chariot with idols of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra, and sister Devi Subhadra, the holy Sudarshana. Rath Yatra is being held on the chosen auspicious day for the first time in history.
Rathayatra is celebrated worldwide. Huge wooden carts are pulled by hand in a grand procession by pilgrims and devotees. Many worshippers congregated at Britain’s oldest Hindu temple, Shri Ram Mandir in Southall, to participate in Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra, which began on July 1. The entire programme was organised by the Shree Jagannatha Society (SJS), UK.
This nine-day ceremonial procession of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra to Gundicha Mandir, the abode of their aunt, is the one competition in the world where deities are taken out of temples to follow a journey with devotees. “We hope very soon we will have the first dedicated Shree Jagannath Mandir in the UK, and then we may host a yatra with thousands of devotees,” said Chetan Shatapathy, SJS, UK trustee.
Cymbals were rung, and conches were blown in the ceremonial Pahandi Yatra, where the idols were carried to their chariot; ceremonial sweeping was performed before it was pulled through Southall. Before being led to the Gundicha Mandir, where the gods will stay for nine days, worshipers chanted the mantra “Hari Bol” loudly.
According to the conventional Oriya calendar, this event is observed every year in the months of June or July on the second day of the Shukla Paksha, Ashadh month.
The Rath yatra sees the procession of three independent chariots for the three deities of Jagannath, Balarama and Shubadra. The fact that the deities’ chariots are freshly built every year is one of the most intriguing aspects of Rath Yatra.