Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra held peacefully in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad: The 141st Rath Yatra culminated at the Lord Jagannath Temple in Jamalpur area of the city as it returned safely after encircling various parts of the old city, amidst thousands of devotees who had thronged to see the journey of the Lord, on the auspicious day of the Ashadhi Beej on Saturday.

The authorities heaved a sigh of relief as the yatra concluded without any untoward incident in the walled city of Ahmedabad, the sensitive old areas which have seen many communal clashes in the past.

The 12 hour-plus Ahmedabad Rath Yatra, which is second only to Jagannath Puri in Odisha, was packed with thousands of devotees thronging and feeling blessed to be a part of it.

The 18-km procession commenced from the 400-year-old Lord Jagannath Temple in the Jamalpur area early Saturday morning, after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah performed the Mangla Aarti at 4 a.m, and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and the Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel performed ‘Pahind’ ceremony.

‘Pahind’ is a ritual performed by sweeping and cleansing of the Lord’s chariot with a golden broom. Going by the precedents, it has been performed by the chief ministers of the state.

The yatra included chariots of the idols of Lord Jagannath (Kirshna), his elder brother Bal Bhadra and sister Subhadra, besides various tableaux. Many “Akhada” (local gyms) members put up a show of strength. The Yatra also included elephants. Some of the most communally sensitive areas of the old city, like Kalupur, Dariapur, Saraspur, Jamalpur and Shahpur, saw the yatra moving on peacefully.

Over 20,000 security personnel kept their eyes on the procession, helped by a the hawk-eyed cameras fitted on helium balloons with Israeli technology, and over 150 CCTV cameras donning the entire route.

The entire yatra was also closely monitored live by the Gujarat Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary through electronic eyes that fed the event live on CM’s dashboard at the CM’s residence in Gandhinagar.

The yatra had a delayed return to the temple late evening after taking a 14-hour route due to the heavy rush of devotees.

Similar Rath Yatras were taken out across around 164 towns and cities of the state. Ahmedabad has been a witness to this religious procession for over a century.