On 25 June 2023, the Indian and Japanese community in Kasugai City of Aichi Prefecture of Japan organized the first and inaugural Shree Jagannath Rath Yatra with the noble objectives – (a) to promote universal peace and brotherhood; (b) promote people-to-people bond and friendships, and (c) catalyze cultural exchange between Indian and Japanese community, while we face a number of planetary crises such as climate change, pollution (water, air, land and ocean), water scarcity, loss of biodiversity, rising volume of plastic and other wastes, increasing frequency and magnitude of natural disasters worldwide, growing inequalities, COVID pandemic, and conflicts. The Rath Yatra was organized by a collaborative effort of the Japan-India-Odisha Fellowship Club (JIOC), TRIDHARA (ODISSI), Japan, and Shree Jagannath Society, Japan.
Addressing as the Chief Guest of inaugural Rath Yatra function, Indian Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Sibi George, did echoed the strong bilateral relation between India and Japan. Further he added Rath Yatra is an important festival of India and celebrated in 192 countries across the globe. He expressed his deep appreciation to Mayor of Kasugai City, entire City Council and the local community for their wholehearted support successfully organizing the Rath Yatra. He further urged increased business cooperation between Japan and India, inviting the local start up companies to venture into Indian market. He also encouraged bilateral cooperation in education sector emphasizing students exchange programme with institutions in Aichi.
Guest of Honour, Mr. Naoki Ishiguro, Mayor of Kasugai City of Japan, the host city, wholeheartedly welcomed the first and inaugural Rath Yatra in the City of Kasugai and encouraged both Indian and Japanese community to make the Rath Yatra happen every year in Kasugai City to deepen cultural exchange between two communities. He also underscored the importance of strong bilateral cooperation between Japan and India.
Speaking at the occasion on behalf of the organizing committee, Choudhury Rudra Charan Mohanty, Vice Chairman of JIOC, who is currently stationed in Nagoya, Japan, as the Environment Programme Coordinator of UNCRD/UN DESA, said culture builds bridges between people and countries, and as a driving force for development, it is essential to achieving the planetary agendas like the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He Further added strong social network and bondage not only help promote cultural exchanges but also enhance resilience of the communities at the time of any crisis & natural calamities.
Following the rituals, Indian Ambassador and Mayor of Kasugai City did the Chhera Panhara following which the Ratha carrying Three Deities – Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra and Lord Jagannath – was pulled by the cheering crowd with Mrudanga and Ghanta badana, Sankha Dhwani,
One of the specialties of this Rath Yatra is it was a joint effort of Indian and Japanese communities with a strong ownership of the local Japanese communities.
The Rath Yatra festival, which was held at Kasugai City Government’s premises and auditorium and spanned from morning 10:00 am until 8:00 pm evening with a fully packed audience was ornamented with spectacular cultural performances by various Indian and Japanese artists.
The dignitaries also released a souvenir – Shree Jagannatha Yatra – to mark the first Rath Yatra festival.