The Chandigarh branch of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) organized two days festival of Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra in the city beautiful, Chandigarh and Panchkula with great preparedness, enthusiasm and devotion. Hundreds of ISKCON devotees from all parts of the country and abroad had come for the Rath Yatras and it looked like a real cosmopolitan affair.
On Ist day of festival in Chandigarh Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladev & Devi Subhadra arrived in Sector 29-D Market at about 11 AM where They were offered 56 Bhoga offering. After the Bhoga offering, Aarti was done by about 108 prominent citizens and dignitaries of the city Beautiful. The Rath Yatra started at about 2.30 P.M. from Sector 29-D Market when Sh. R.T. Jindal, IAS, Sh. Rajiv Gupta, Joint Commissioner MC Chandigarh, His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami Maharaj, GBC of ISKCON and number of sanyasis and executive members of Sector 29-D Market Association started sweeping the road before the Rath with golden brooms while other devotees started pulling the chariot carrying the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladeva and Devi Subhadra and Srila Prabhupada – the founder acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Local people, who had turned out in large numbers, also joined the devotees in pulling the chariot, and in chanting and dancing before the Rath.
As a large number of devotees were pulling the chariot, another group of devotees was busy ecstatically in Sankirtan and dancing before the chariot, while many volunteers of ISKCON were seen liberally distributing small packets of prasadam to all the participants and onlookers.
Starting from Sector 29-D the Rath Yatra passed through Sec. 30, Sec. 20, Sec. 21, Sec. 22, Dividing 22-23, Sec. 23, Dividing 23-36 before it concluded at the ISKCON center in Sector 36-B, at about 7-30 P.M. where about 8,000 participants were treated to a sumptuous feast of the dishes earlier offered to Lord Jagannath.
On the second day of festival citizen of Panchkula welcome Their Lordships SriSri Jagannath, Lord Baladev & Devi Subhadra and Srila Prabhupada in NAC Market Manimajra at about 11 AM where They were offered 56 Bhoga offerings prepared by devotees. After offerings and Aarti started at about 1.00 P.M. from NAC Market Manimajra
Starting from NAC Market, Manimajra the Rath Yatra passed through Sec.7, Sec. 8, Sec. 9, Dividing 15-16, Sec. 16 before it concluded at Agarwal Bhawan, Secor 16 at about 8.00P.M. where about 5,000 participants were treated to a sumptuous feast of the dishes earlier offered to Lord Jagannath.
The main attractions of the festivals are:
1. His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami, ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner, BBT Trustee visited the Rath Yatra and spoke on the occasion.
2. His Holiness Nava Yogendra Swami from Udhampur
3. His Holiness Prabodhanand Saraswati Swami from Jagannath Puri. His Holiness Bhakti Asraya Vaishnava Swami from Vrindavan & His Holiness Bhakti Anugraha Janardan Swami from Philippine graced the occasion.
4. H.G. Mahaman Das, Co-Zonal Secretary for ISKCON Chandigarh attended Rath Yatra.
5. Senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON H.G. Sridham Das from Delhi attended the Rath Yatra.
6. Many foreign devotees especially from Russia & America sang & danced in front of Lord Jagannath.
7. 56 items of food offerings to Lord Jagannath.
8. Feast for all the participants of public numbering around 8000 at the starting and conclusion of the Rath Yatra.
The Rath used in Rath Yatra has the following features:
1. It is 50 feet high.
2. It has a multi coloured canopy tastefully decorated with flowers and baloons.
3. It has a nice mechanical system to reduce or increase the height of Rath. It was made so to reduce the height of Rath in case of any overhead wire or tree branch.
This type of special Rath was initially designed by an American ISKCON devotee H.G. Jayanand Das in 1967.