Heavy rain could also not dampen the spirit of thousands of fans of Lord Jagannath who were participating in the colourful 43rd hundreds of people had also lined up on the way to see the Lord and to pull the rope of the chariots. Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladeva and Subhdra Devi were majestically seated on three different magnificent chariots and were being driven through the streets of Kolkata by scores of enthusiastic devotees. The lanes through which the procession passed were bedecked with colourful rangolis.
The grand yatra was about half a kilometre long and had many varieties –musical bands, special group of mridanga players artistically playing devotional songs, children in Vrindavan attire on horse and bullock carts, depiction of Lord’s different incarnations, dozens of ladies carrying lamps, kirtan party in front of each chariots and devotees happily swaying to the tune of Hare Krishna mantra. At many places the deities stopped to receive several gifts and bhoga comprising of various delicacies. Cool water and fresh juices were arranged by local people en route for all those who were part of the spiritual journey.
A special Rath Yatra issue of “Back to Godhead” magazine in English, Hindi and Bengali was released and several copies of it were distributed on the way.
The three adorable deities began their journey from Park Circus Maidan at around 12 p.m. and reached TAI Parade Brigade Ground at around 6 p.m. HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj who has been an inspiration for all the devotees of Kolkata and has been a part of Kolkata Rath Yatra since its inception was present at the inauguration ceremony to everyone’s delight. A mammoth pandal has been built at the Brigade ground. It houses a magnificent Gundicha temple where the deities will stay for 9 days and several stalls where various activities will be conducted and different aspects of devotional lifestyles and culture will be showcased.
Chief Minister of West Bengal, Smt Mamata Banerjee, came in the evening at the Brigade ground to welcome the Lord; she also performed arati of Lord Jagannath. Subrata Mukherjee, Minster in West Bengal Government, and Mayor Sovan Chatterjee were also present. Traditional Odissi dance by Dona Ganguly, wife of ex Indian cricket team captain Sourav Ganguly, was one of the attractions of the evening.
By nature every one of us are spiritual beings and so have intrinsic spiritual nature. We love to sing, chant and dance. Rath Yatra is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our life, it’s a festival which fills our life with colour and takes us closer to Lord Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe. As per Srila Prabhupada’s dream Kolkata Rath Yatra has become mammoth drawing lakhs of people every year.