The title might sound little peculiar to you, but this is true that we almost got crushed by the huge, maddened crowd at Rath Yatra, Hauz Khas. Every year hordes of people pour into the area to be a part of the carnival.
A Short Brief about Ratha Yatra:
Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival or Car Festival is one of the biggest and most popular Hindu festivals associated with the Almighty Lord Jagannath. As part of the festival, the deities (Lord Jagannath, sister Subhadra and brother Balabhadra) are taken out on an annual visit to Mausi Maa Temple (Gundicha Mata Temple) and return after a stay of 9 days. It is known as “Bahuda Yatra”.
Though the temple is within walking distance (less than 2 kilometers from the metro station), we (Praveen, my dear friend, Sunita and I) preferred hiring an auto rickshaw. The celebration was in full flow as we could witness the excitement and enthusiasm of the devotees from a distance. The main area was fenced and constantly observed by Policemen. We had to alight from the auto, at least, 500 meters from the temple and walked along street, through the mass, enjoying various drinks of butter milk, juice, rooh afza and water.
It was around 2 pm by then, and I couldn’t afford to miss an opportunity to grab the golden moment of the chariot being pulled through the main streets. However, we were stuck up in the middle finding a safe space and couldn’t penetrate though the tremendous gathering.
Carrying the idol of Lord Jagannath, the spectacularly adorned chariot (standing up to 15 ft.), resembling temple structure, was towed with ropes through the main streets of Sufdarjung Development Area, Bhagwan Jagannath Marg by thousands of devotees. Priests were busy in chanting mantras. The extravagant procession played devotional songs with trumpets, drums and tambourines. The chariot looked so colorful and dazzling that could capture anyone’s attention.
The Rath proceeded further and further with the chants of “Jay Jagannath Swami”. The sight of people trying to break coconuts against the Rath was terrifying as there were chances of devotees being trampled by the huge wheels of the chariot. Constant announcements – both in Odia and Hindi – were made warning people not to get close to the wheels and take care of respective family members. We even came across reports of child missing.
“Blessed are those who pull the ropes of the chariot during the Rath Yatra” – and I think I’m blessed. I didn’t let the opportunity go just by standing away from the crowd and witnessing the beauty. We inched little further and were almost crushed by a huge crowd. I was very concerned about Sunita. I escorted her to a safe place and partook in the extravaganza. Later on, Praveen and Sunita also tried their hands at pulling the ropes, but in the safest manner.
The chariot moved on. And we three of us headed to the temple. Not finding a space for our shoes in the shoe stand, we asked Sunita to keep an eye on our properties. Yes. I know it sounds bit awkward making a girl to act as a guard ;-), but we were left with no other choice. Praveen and I entered the temple with nude feet.
Whoa, whoa, whoa…we jumped like shrimps no sooner we stepped on the floors of the temple premises. It was extremely hot. After paying a visit to the main temple and Laxmi Mata temple, I suggested Praveen to have a glance at the basement. It is the place where devotees can have “Mahaprasad – Abadha”.
Praveen had to attend his swimming session. So, we decided to return. As Praveen departed, Sunita and I went to Sukant’s home. Relaxed there for a couple of hours before catching up metro for Vaishali.
Here’s the Youtube link of Rath Yatra video.
(You can also know more about our trip read out Praveen’s blog)