New Delhi: On July 10th, 2021, Jagannath Rath Yatra was celebrated in the state of Indiana for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. It was organized by the Jagannath Association of Indiana (JAI) at the premises of the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana.
Rath Yatra is a nine-day-long festival that celebrates the annual journey of three Hindu deities- Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra to their aunt’s place in grand chariots. It originated in Puri, Odisha, and is now celebrated at various Lord Jagannath temples across the world.
The temple was abuzz with excitement and frenzied activities before the deities made their customary trip to their aunt’s place which began at 9:30 am EST. Mr. Satya Tilusaram, the Chairman of HTCI, performed the customary Chhera Pahara ritual. Then the chariot carrying Tini Takura was pulled by the devotees to reverberations of Ghanta and chants of Jai Jagannath. Approximately 400 people witnessed this novel event in the mid-western state of Indiana. The atmosphere was electric with the collective love and devotion of the Indian diaspora. Next Sunday, the Lord with his siblings will make their Bahuda Rath Yatra back abode.
Following this, a cultural program began where all devotees ate maha prasadam and watched classical singing, dance, and instrument performances from performers of all ages. Throughout the event, the local Indian community was introduced to Odisha culture with an art exhibition and display table. Beautiful illustrations depicted the Odisha culture with paintings and sketches. Different saris and Pipili’s (fabric work) were also displayed for visitors to see.
All preparations for the event were organized in a span of one month. By spending long hours managing the cultural program, construction, assembly, and decoration of the Rath, this event has become a huge success.
This event plays a significant role to the local Indian community of Indiana as it is a day to celebrate and embrace the Orissa culture. Many people who are from different states in India join on this auspicious day and enjoy the festivities.
“This event was quite significant to the Indian community as it was a day to come together, enjoy each other’s company and get a glimpse of Odisha culture and what it represents,” said Madhab Nayak, a festival organizer.