Ahmedabad, 5 July, 2019: The 142nd rath yatra of Lord Jagannath, which commenced Thursday morning amid tight security, ended peacefully after the chariots of the three deities reached the Jagannath Temple at Jamalpur here late in the evening after covering a distance of 18km.
The procession, led by the chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra, returned to the 400 -year-old temple after travelling through the narrow roads of the walled city, including some communally sensitive areas such as Kalupur, Shahpur and Dariyapur.
Besides the three chariots, the procession comprised 19 decorated elephants, 100 trucks with tableaux and members of 30 singing troupes.
Lakhs of people lined up on both sides of roads along the route to have a glimpse of the deities, decorated elephants and tableaux.
Large cut-outs and posters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several tableaux dedicated to armed forces were the highlight of this year’s procession.
Scenes of communal harmony were created at Dariyapur, a Muslim-dominated area, where community leaders, led by local councillor Hasan Lala, accorded a warm welcome to the temple’s chief priest, Dilipdasji Maharaj, and presented him a shawl and a bouquet.
In reciprocation, Dilipdasji donated Rs 5,100 to two mosques situated in the area, said Lala, adding this tradition was set by their forefathers to give a message of peace and communal harmony.
Young drummers, who were part of the procession and played drums non-stop while riding on camel carts, took a break in Dariyapur when they heard the sound of `Azaan’, the Muslim call for prayer, from a nearby mosque.
Since people had turned up in an overwhelming number at the temple as well as along the route this time, the procession took one hour more compared to past years to return to the temple, said police commissioner A K Singh.
The rath yatra ended peacefully, he said.
Normally, the chariots come back to the temple in Jamalpur at around 8:30 pm, but this year they returned at around 9:30 pm.
As many as 25,000 personnel from different police units and paramilitary forces were deployed along the route.
CCTVs and drone cameras were also used to keep a watch on the procession.
Before the annual rath yatra began from the temple at around 7:30 am, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani performed ‘pahind vidhi’ – a symbolic ritual of cleaning the way for the chariots using a golden broom.
In the early hours, Union Home Minister Amit Shah took part in ‘mangla aarti’ (auspicious ritual to pay obeisance to Lord) of the deities in the temple.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also greeted people on the occasion through a tweet.
“Best wishes to everyone on the special occasion of the Rath Yatra. We pray to Lord Jagannath and seek his blessings for the good health, happiness and prosperity of everyone. Jai Jagannath,” Modi said in a tweet.
The rath yatra is taken out every year on Ashadhi Beej, the second day of Ashadh month as per the Hindu calendar.