Ratha Yatra, India Report


Jul 04, CANADA (SUN) — India Ratha celebrations marred by stampede deaths in Puri Dhama.

Six Killed, Hundreds Injured in Puri Ratha Stampede

Sun Correspondent Debabrata Mohapatra reports: 'Stampede mars Rath Yatra Festival at Puri, Six Killed, Hundreds Injured'.

An unprecedented stampede, killing six pilgrims and injuring hundreds, took the sheen out of the much hyped annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and devi Subhadra at Puri on Friday. The ill-fated incident occurred hours before the pulling of chariots, which were besieged by a sea of humanity. Friday's horrific incident is reminiscent of the stampede on November 4, 2006 inside the Jagannath Temple in which four were killed.

According to the most recently received reports, out of the six dead police have identified only two deceased: Binodini Pattnaik (51) and Prabhasini Parija (45), who are sisters. "While Pattnaik hailed from Nayagarh district, Parija belonged to Bhubaneswar," said Asheet Panigrahi, the SP Puri. "We are trying to identify the other bodies. All six bodies (three male and three female) were declared as brought dead [dead on arrival] by the hospital authorities," Panigrahi said. He could not say whether any of the dead and injured were from West Bengal.

Nearly 8 were injured and are undergoing treatment at the Puri hospital, Panigrahi said adding two more patients have been shifted to SCB Medical and College at Cuttack. However, there came reports that the list of injured would swell to over two hundred.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who alongside Governor S. Raji was enjoying the Rath Yatra here, rushed to the hospital and announced Rs 1 Lakh each to the kin of the deceased. "The government will also bear the medical expenses of the injured," Patnaik told reporters. Patnaik also ordered a probe into the "tragic incident" by members of a board of revenue. He meanwhile parried whether there was a security lapse on the part of police. Patnaik and some of his ministers who were present at the Rath Yatra returned to Bhubaneswar immediately after the stampede took place. Notably, the stampede sight was situated just a stone's throw away from the raised platform occupied by Patnaik and his cohorts.

Pradesh Congress Committee President Jayadev Jena, who also arrived at the hospital, trained the gun on Patnaik, demanding the latter's immediate resignation. "The CM should resign immediately. The stampede took place due to his government's mismanagement. The CM even had earlier reviewed the Rath Yatra security arrangements. But I am afraid that was not up to the mark. He cannot escape by announcing compensation and sugar-coated assurances," Jena pointed out. "The state government should dole out Rs 10 Lakh to each of the deceased families," demanded Priyadarshan Pattnaik, the Puri Youth Congress leader.

Some eyewitnesses said the stampede took place between 11:45 am and 12 pm, when the sea of crowd went frenzied as soon as Lord Balabhadra was brought to His chariot amid the pahandi procession. All hell broke loose when the most sought after Lord Jagannath appeared before the pilgrims. "The pilgrims forced their entry near the chariot sight, which was cordoned off by police. This led to the stampede," said a senior police official.

Most of the injured attributed the incident to the "high handed" attitude of the police. "Police pressed the panic button by pushing the devotees, who were trying to come close to the chariots. Then everybody fell on the ground leading to the stampede," said an injured pilgrim, Kailash Chandra Malla (21) from Kendrapada district.

"There was complete mismanagement on the part of police. It should have made proper channels for smooth passage of pilgrims," said Nihar Ranjan Bhanja, a 19 year-old injured, who was also from Kendrapada. Pradip Kapoor, the IG police, was on the overall charge of the law and order at Puri for the Rath Yatra. He was not available for any comment.

Puri District Collector Rashmi Ranjan Patnaik did not admit it was a stampede. "There was no stampede. Nor was there any security lapse on our part," Patnaik said. He however fumbled when asked about the exact cause of the death of the six pilgrims.

Patnaik also said the stampede did not have any serious repercussion on the Rath Yatra rituals. "We appealed the pilgrims not to panic. The rituals, including the pulling of chariots, commenced as per the schedule," said the collector, who is also the temple's Deputy Chief administrator. Till reports reached last, all the three chariots were half a kilometer from the destination.

Click here for more images from stampede

Rathayatra Celebrated in West Bengal


Jul 04, KOLKATA, INDIA (THE HINDU) — The Rathayatra of Lord Jagannth was celebrated here on Friday with Information and Broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi flagging off the brightly painted chariots with the ritual of sweeping the road with a golden broom.

Hundreds of devotees gathered at Chittaranjan Avenue in central Kolkata to pull the chariots of Lord Jagannath, his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra brought out by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

ISKCON devotees sang kirtans throughout the journey to Park Circus a few kilometres away where the chariots would remain for a week.

Ramakrishna Math and Mission Vice-President Swami Gitananda joined other monastic and lay devotess of the order in pulling the chariot at the organisation's Balaram Mandir centre in north Kolkata. The event commemorates the pulling of the chariot at the very building more than 150 years ago by Sri Ramakrishna.

Traditional households in the metropolis brought out their own chariots. In many neighbourhoods, children were also seen pulling chariots of various sizes.

A few lakh devotees witnessed the Rathyatra at Mahesh, arguably the oldest chariot festival in the state about 30 km north of the metropolis. A fortnight-long fair has also been organised on the occasion as in earlier years.

'Rather Mela' (fairs) was organised at the Moulali and Amherst Street areas of the metropolis.

ISKCON Ludhiana Welcomes Rathayatra


Jul 04, LUDHIANA, INDIA (SUN) — ISKCON, Ludhiana welcomed Sri Sri Jagannath Rathayatra, which was traditionally held by Jagannath Temple, Civil Lines locality of the city. The temple is being run by the Orissa people living in and around city. A large number of Orissa and local people of the city joined this festival of the chariot being run annually on the same date as the Rathayatra in Sri Sri Jagannath Puri Dham.

Lord of the Universe Sri Jagannatha, Baldeva and Lady Subhadra looked very beautiful in Their decorated chariot. People were seen pulling the Ratha carts and roads was also being swept by devotees, in spite of the hot weather.

ISKCON Ludhiana devotees performed aortic and chanted the Hare Krsna Mahamantra on the arrival of the Chariot before the temple. Those who were present on this occasion included HG Krishan Kanti das, HG Vidurpriya das (Co.TP), HG Balabhadra das, Head Pujari, along with other devotees.

Rathayatra Celebrated in Dakha


Jul 04, DAKHA, BANGLADESH (STAR) — Hindu devotees yesterday celebrated the annual Jagannath Rathajatra (chariot procession), one of the biggest religious festivals of the Hindus, amid religious fervour and festivity across the country.

The country's biggest Rathajatra started from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in the capital's Swamibagh, seeking divine blessings for universal peace and harmony.

The procession, brought out at 4:30 pm, marched different streets in the capital and ended at Dhakeshwari National Temple. The Rath will be returned to the ISKCON temple from Dhakeshwari temple on July 12.

The Dhamrai Rathajatra was brought out at 3:00 pm at Dhamrai, Dhaka with participation of thousands of devotees. Processions were also brought out in Sylhet, Chittagong, Comilla, Chandpur, Noakhali, Habiganj, Narsingdi, Faridpur, Bogra, Barisal and Shariatpur on the occasion.

ISKCON has organised nine-day-long programmes, including Kirtan, recitation from the Gita, discussions and cultural functions at its temples at Swamibagh and Wari.

Hindu devotees at the ISKCON temple believe that the Rathajatra helps promote Bengali culture and it has now become a national festival as people of different faiths take part in the procession.

Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Chhatra Mahajote, and Jagannath Hall Shree Chaitanya Shikkha and Sangskriti Sangha have organised separate programmes on the occasion.

Our Rajshahi correspondent reports: A Rathajatra started from Ghoramara Rathbari in Rajshahi and ended at Kumarpara after parading different streets. The Rath will be brought back to Rathbari after a week. Different programmes including discussions, kirtan, and religious functions will also be held.

Celebrations across Orissa State


Jul 04, BHUBANESWAR, ORISSA (STAR) — The famous Rath Yatra was celebrated across the state with much grandeur and religious fervour. People participated in local processions. The festival has been celebrated for the past 250 years and was started by the then kings belonging to Gajapati dynasty.

Here in Bhubaneswar, a great number of devotees took part in the Rath Yatra organised by International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon). The chariots were pulled by ardent devotees and people from nearby places too thronged to witness the impressive procession. In other parts of the city, Rath Yatra was organised at Shri Banikshetra of KIIT University. The secretary of KIIT group of institutions, Dr A Samanta performed the ‘Chhera Panhara’. Students, staff and local people participated and pulled the decorated three chariots of the deities. The chariot of Goddess Subhadra and Devadalan, were pulled by only women.

In Paralakhemundi thousands of devotees from the district and neighbouring districts thronged there to participate in the famous Rath Yatra. While the ‘Pahandi Bije’ took place at 11am, the scion of the Gajapati dynasty, Gopinath Gajapati performed ‘Chhera Panhara’ at around 3pm. Then the chariots were pulled. However, an axle supporting the wheels broke down and the chariot pulling was disrupted. This is said to be the first such incident in the history of Rath Yatra here.Security was beefed up and four platoons of police were deployed. Besides chariots, another attraction here is the local fair.

Reports from Jagatsinghpur say that the Rath Yatra was celebrated in many parts of the district with gaiety. While all the Jagannath temples organised the Chariot Festival today, that at Kunja Bihari temple in Gada Kujanga village will be observed tomorrow as per tradition. District collector Mr Pramoda Kumar Meherda performed ‘Chhera Panhara’ at Baldevjew temple at Sidhal under Jagatsinghpur block.

‘Mangal Alati’ and other rituals were also performed at the temple and later the chariots were pulled. Among other places, the Chariot Festival was observed at Paradeep Jagannath temple, Iskcon temple at Balikuda, Jagannath temple at Garei in Nagaon block.

In Keonjhar though, the chariots could not reach the destination i.e. the temple of the maternal aunt of the deities, as the sun set midway during the chariot pulling. However, the procession was disrupted many times. Traditionally, the ropes are made of a kind of jungle vine and presented to the temple authority by a hilly tribe, the Bhuayan. The devotees alleged that as the rope is not changed every year it tends to create problems.

50,000 People take part in Rrath Yatra in Kolkata


Jul 04, KOLKATA, INDIA (EXPRESS NEWS SVC) — Chanting ‘Hare Krishna’ and distributing sweets as they passed by, nearly 50,000 people joined the rath yatra on Friday. It was organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) for the 37th year.

Information and Broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi formally inaugurated the festival by tugging the rope of the ISKCON rath.

The yatra started from Subodh Mullick Square and went through Moulali and CIT Road before terminating at Park Circus Maidan. Concerned about the traffic problems, ISKCON has deviated from the usual Park Street route.

Dasmunshi took the traditional golden broom and swept the area in front of the chariot before it began its journey. As the three chariots passed the streets, thousands tried to touch the holy rope. Industrialist Harsh Neotia was also present for the occasion.

The chariots of Lord Jagannath his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra will be kept at the Park Circus Maidan for the next seven days. A mela is also being held at Maidan to celebrate the festival.

A temple symbolising the Gundicha temple, the home of Lord Jagannath’s maternal aunt, has been erected at the Park Circus Maidan.

The ulta ratha yatra on July 12 will begin from Park Circus Maidan and pass through Syed Amir Ali Avenue, Ballygunge Phari, Hazra Road, Sarat Bose Road, AJC Bose Road, Hungerford Street to finally reach the ISKCON’s Kolkata chapter office at 3C, Albert Road.

ISKCON representatives from London, Sydney and Canada were also present in the city. Traffic on Moulali, Lenin Sarani and CIT Road was diverted for two hours.

Rath Yatra Proceeds Peacefully in Sura


Jul 04, AHMEDABAD, INDIA (EXPRESS NEWS SVC) — Amid tight security arrangements, the annual Jagannath Rath Yatra passed off peacefully in the city on Friday. Over 5,000 devotees participated in it. There was, however, a minor stone pelting incident in Varachha over the ongoing agitation by the diamond workers.

The Yatra organised by the ISKCON started from the Surat railway station in the afternoon. Thousands of devotees were seen singing devotional songs and queuing up to pull the chariot, while temple volunteers distributed sweets among the devotees.

The Yatra covered the main city areas like Ring Road, Udhna Darwaja, Majuragate, Athwagate and ultimately culminated at Jehangirpura in Rander area in the evening. Luckily for the people, it did not rain during the procession.

Other yatras were also taken out from Godiya Bawa Temple at Mahidharpura, Lanka Vijay Hanuman Temple at Amroli, Jagannath temple at Pandesara, Jain Shwetambar Gopipura Sangh and Sagar Shanti Vikas Mandal.

The police worked constantly to maintain law and order, and managed the traffic. Voluntary organisations came forward to help them.

Vadodara Cops Heave a Sigh of Relief


Jul 04, VADODARA, INDIA (EXPRESS NEWS SVC) — Police heaved a sigh of relief as the annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra passed off peacefully in the city on Friday. Amid heavy security arrangements, the Yatra remained relatively free from any untoward incident.

The Yatra was flagged off at Sayajigunj. Around 30,000 devotees from different localities in Raopura, Rajmahel Road and other areas thronged the streets singing bhajans, dancing and walking along the gigantic chariot carrying the idols of the three deities. The Yatra convoy had different tableaux lined up that ran over a kilometre. It concluded at the Polo Ground well before the dusk, after which the Rath was dismantled and the idols taken to the ISKCON temple in a private vehicle.

Joint Commissioner of Police Pravin Sinha said: “The Yatra was totally free of untoward incidents. After identifying the communally sensitive points, we had almost tripled the police watch there. This proved effective in dealing with the potential troublemakers.”

He said that 700 homeguards, 50 civil defence volunteers, seven companies of the SRP, including two specially for the Rath Yatra, around 2,000 police personnel and over 50 officers were deployed to ensure the safety of the Yatra.

A few days before the Yatra, the police department had carried out a major crackdown on illegal activities and miscreants. Sources in the police said that some troublemakers fled from their houses for a day.

“The previous arrests helped in sending a clear message to the potential troublemakers to ward off from indulging in any incident,” Sinha added.


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