Securing The Chariot Festival: Puri is Safe

“Rath Yatra” – The holy Car Festival of Puri in its present form dates back at least a thousand years. Everything is on a grand scale. Full of spectacle, drama and colour, its a typical Indian fair. It’s also the embodiment of the synthesis of the tribal with the classical. One glimpse of the Lord is said to release one from the cycle of birth and death. The etymology of juggernaut originates from the chariots — in a way its true – an unstoppable force – of belief, piety, fervour that rolls on – transcending time and distance. Puri “Rath Yatra” has been celebrated in the city since times memorial. It is observed on the 2nd day of the full-moon fortnight in the month of June – July. This year the Car festival will be observed from 12th of July 2010 to till 23rd July 2010. The main car festival is on 13th July’ 2010 on Tuesday.

Off late Orissa has been subject to a lot of naxal violence – sparking off fears that the famous Rath Yatra – The Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath could fall prey to it. Threat perception has always been high for the temple. It has been recommended level one security arrangements since 2004. Since then two Special Armed Police platoons are deployed at each of the four temple gates round the clock, complete with metal detectors and manual frisking. A “quick reaction team” is ready 24X7 to meet emergencies.

 The Lord Jagannath temple administration has security of its own and some 77 of them are deployed inside the temple premises to look after temple security, safety of visitors and maintenance of order. The Puri district administration has already undertaken survey of buildings around the Jagannath temple and henceforth – till the day after the return from Gundicha temple they will be under constant vigil. Resorts, Hotels, lodges and dharamsalas in the temple town are periodically checked by the district police for suspected maoists. Such a recent raid landed a couple of underground naxals in the security net although the Government has neither confirmed nor denied reports.

The state government, has sealed its borders with Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to avoid entry of ultras from the neighbouring states and currently some 5000 paramilitary forces are about to engage Maoists. “Rath Yatra” is THE most important festival of Orissa and the Orissa government is aware about the threat and is planning for any eventualities.

More than 6000 police and rapid action forces will be on duty during the Rath Yatra in July 13th 2010. The Coast guard has been specially directed to guard against any attack from the sea route. Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has recently reviewed security arrangements personally. He has directed the Naxal-infested districts to keep a closer vigilance. In a two pronged strategy the government is beefing up security in no-Maoist zones.

A high-level review meeting was held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary to assess the security cordon around the Shree Jagannath temple in Puri. It was decided that all the existing Close Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) installed in the premises of the temple would be upgraded. Additional places for installing CCTVs inside and outside the Shree Jagannath temple were identified. It was also decided that all hotels in Puri would come under a security cover and the Puri sea beach would be a strictly ‘zero tolerance’ zone for anything remotely suspicious. 

It will be safe for pilgrims, devotees, tourist, travelers, photographers, journalist and common man coming to witness and participate in the holy carnival “Rath Yatra” – The Car Festival.

Rath Yatra: The Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath

“The grandeur and heritage of Puri “Rath Yatra” – The Car Festival, is the annual holy carnival for devotees, travelers, tourist, photographers, Journalist, travel gurus. It’s the photographer’s paradise, and people from all over the world come to film The Chariot festival. Every year pilgrims find something new to witness and take back memories and blessing when visit to Jagannath Dham.

Puri, the south-eastern Indian city is visited for a number of reasons; its beaches, its coastal cuisine, its temples, and the Rath Yatra are a few of them to mention here… Popularly known as the Temple Chariot Festival; Rath Yatra and Annual Car festival is the yearly festival of the Hindus in which lord Krishna “Jagannath”, his heavenly brother “Balabhadra”, and his divine sister “Subhadra” are taken from the 11th Century Shree Jagannath Puri Temple in town to the Gundicha temple amidst millions of devotees – domestic and international. One of the most incredible spectacles in the world, this festival also commemorates the human journey of dark to light, the journey from ignorance to knowledge, and the journey of final salvation.

Puri Rath Yatra has been celebrated in the city since times memorial. It is observed on the 2nd day of the full-moon fortnight in the month of June-July. Wonderfully decorated wooden chariots of the deities are pulled by devotees with large ropes. These ropes are considered very auspicious and devotees who can touch them are deemed as lucky. This year the Car festival will be observed from 12th of July 2010 till 23rd July 2010. The core festivities of Rath Yatra – the Car Festival will be celebrated on 21st June 2012

Rath Yatra: The Car Festival at, Puri

“Rath Yatra : The Car Festival at Puri”

Catch the magical glimpse of the festivities as have been celebrated over the years at http://bit.ly/afotpC

Rath Yatra is not just for the people of Orissa. It is a celebration for devotees and visitors from all over the world. Owing to the painstaking efforts of Prabhu AC Bhaktivedanta of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), Rath Yatra is not just limited to Indians, it is today a popular festival celebrated in several European and Asian nations as well. Belfast, Dublin, Venice, Toronto, USA san Francisco and other cities in USA states and Singapore are a few of them to mention.

Let me also run you through a few of the significant facts about the Rath Yatra festival:

  • The 3 chariots of the deities are constructed newly of Phassi and Dausa trees, local trees that are especially brought to Puri from nearby cities and towns of Orissa.
  • The chariot of Lord Jagannath (Krishna) is known as Nandighosa and is driven on sixteen wheels.
  • The chariot of Subhadra is popular as Dwarpadalana and is traveled on twelve wheels.
  • The chariot of Balabhadra is called as Taladhwaja. It has fourteen wheels.
  • The construction of the chariots begins on the day of Akshaya Tritya. This year the date will be 14th of May 2010.
  • A ceremonial everyday boat ride for the deities commences at the Narendra Tank and this festival is held for 21days and is called the Chandan Yatra.
  • The ceremonial bathing of the deities, Snana Jatra in the month of June follows this act.
  • Nearly every house in Orissa is decorated with flowers and oil lamps on the account of Rath Yatra.
  • Over 10 lakh devotees come down to Puri for this festival.
  • Once the festival is over, the chariots are broken and the sandalwood sold to devotees as mementoes and relics.

The Rath Yatra truly manages to enable visitors and devotees with an ethereal experience of natural nirvana. Come embark on this journey and enjoy a never before experience. Toshali makes all arrangement for their guest to experience the car festival.

How to Reach Puri for the Chariot Festival?

  • Shree Jagannath Temple Puri is 60-km from Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa.
  • Nearest Airport is Bhubaneswar 60km from the holy temple from there you can easily hire a vehicle or a bus or an environment friendly Rickshaw.
  • Rail Lines in India are well connected with Puri Railway Station directly to and from different major cities like Kolkota, New Delhi, and Bhubaneswar, Tirupati and Ahmedabad and more.
  • By road Puri is 60-km from Bhubaneswar main bus stand and 35-km from Konark on Marine Drive.
  • Toshali, the ethnic village resort is located on the Puri – Konark Marine Drive, which is just 15 to 20 minutes drive to Shree Jagannath Temple. Toshali makes all arrangements for its guests to witness and experience Rath Yatra – The Chariot Festival.

On the event of The Car Festival “Rath Yatra” 2010.  Toshali is on to demonstrate the positive change on International coastal clean up drive at Puri beach to keep it clean, and have initiated the initiative cause “Puri Beach: Keep Me Clean”. It has already set an example on “Balighai beach”, Puri in coordination with the Orissa Forest Department.

Balighai Beach Puri

Balighai Beach at Puri

Do not forget to carry your camera; we would appreciate if you share your video and photographs at our blog. For More Information on The Car Festival leave a comment, Metu will revert back…