Rath Yatra Celebration
BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir, Kolkata
Friday 8 July 2005
Over 15,000 devotees, well-wishers and residents of Kolkata participated in the annual Rath Yatra celebrations organised by the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir.
A beautifully decorated 30ft. long, 13ft. wide and 45ft. high rath (chariot) of wood was made by experienced BAPS sadhus and devotees.
At 3.00 pm on Friday 8 July 2005, the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami and the guru parampara, together with the murtis of Shri Jagannathji, Shri Balramji and Shri Subhadraji were seated in the chariot. Then, to the accompaniment of Vedic verses pujan of the murtis was performed by Pujya Bhagvatpriya Swami, Mahant of the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Kolkata, Shri Yukta Chuni Goswami, the Sheriff of Kolkata; Shri Dinesh Tivedi, MP and other invited dignitaries.
After the pujan ceremony, the invited guests swept the ground in front of the rath with a golden brush, as per tradition. They then pulled the rath using the 100 ft. long ropes attached to the front to herald the start of the 4 km colourful rath yatra (procession).
Preceding the rath, from the beginning, were uniformed motorcyclists, Bengali sharnai players, traditionally dressed women and young girls singing bhajans, balaks of the Pramukh Dhwani Band playing traditional tunes, young boys chanting dhun, Chinese boys performing dragon dance and sadhus and male devotees pulling the rath in turn.
Behind the rath were devotees from Orissa singing traditional bhajans and, finally, a vehicle carrying packets of prasad which were distributed to the people en route. Thousands of people eagerly pulled the rath through the 4 km procession which concluded at 7.00 pm.
Finally, the arti was performed to mark the end of this most colourful, enjoyable and inspiring rath yatra celebration.