The Odisha Cultural Circle (OCC) has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce ‘national holiday’ on Rath Yatra to enable people from across the nation to congregate and celebrate the fest.
Noted hotelier JK Mohanty, Chairman of OCC feels declaration of the holiday will bolster inbound tourist footfalls and shore up earnings for the tourism sector.
In his letter to the Prime Minister, Mohanty said, “Devotees from all over the world throng to Puri with an earnest desire to pull the Lords’ chariots. The Rath Yatra festival has become a common sight in almost all major cities of the country. It is also organised in different cities abroad. So, there is a necessity of more and more publicity of this unique event of Odisha by the Union government throughout the country and also abroad”.
Rath Yatra, the annual car festival of Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity, is observed on the second day of ‘Shukla Pakshya’ (waxing cycle of Moon) during Asadha Month (third month of the lunar calendar).
The idols of the three deities– Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra as well as Sudarshan, the celestial wheel are removed from the temple and taken in a ceremonial procession to their chariots.
The chariots are dragged along the Grand Road, Puri and taken two miles afar to Shree Gundicha Temple, the abode of their aunt.
“More than a religious festival, the Rath Yatra is an eternal celebration of the divine values of love and compassion and of equality and fraternity. The general public is allowed to pull the chariots irrespective of their caste, creed, sect or sex. This liberty indicates that the deity is equal for every person on earth and grants equal opportunity to all. Also, the festival signifies that the benevolent deities desire to come down to the level of the common man to share the joys and suffering of the common folk and to travel with them on the Grand Road for some time to reach Sri Gundicha Temple”, said Mohanty.