Kolkata: Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra in West Bengal gave grandeur amiss. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who, every year participates in ISKCON’s Rath Yatra, this year instead of visiting in person had had sent sweets and flowers to ISKCON temple.
Talking to Free Press Journal, Gouranga Das, a priest in ISKCON said that the pandemic had restricted Rath Yatra for two consecutive years and that prayers are on so that the chariot festival doesn’t get interrupted in the following years.
Meanwhile, the deities were taken on an open truck decked with flowers instead of chariots so that the devotees can catch a sight of the Lord Almighty during the Lord’s visit to His aunt’s place.
Deities of Mahesh’s Rath Yatra in Hooghly which is celebrated since 1396 was seen taken to a makeshift artificial aunt’s house just beside the temple by the priests. Same was the scene in Mayapur’s Rath Yatra where the priest took the deities on lap and placed it in a makeshift place.
Notably, in both Mahesh and Mayapur instead of 56 bhogs, the number of bhogs was increased as the priests feared that "the Lord will be angry for placing Him in an artificial aunt’s place".
In Tarapith, it is a tradition where the idol of Kali is taken out in a golden chariot so that all devotees can see the idol. But this year a picture of the Goddess was placed inside the chariot but was not taken out.
Incidentally, on Rath Yatra the wooden framework of Goddess Durga is also made across West Bengal and Sobhabazar Rajbari in North Kolkata even this year didn’t miss the tradition.