holy Sojourn

Written by Dilip Bisoi | Updated: Jun 28 2009, 06:50am hrs
Global warming
What Jerusalem is for Jews, Puri is for Hindus. Rightly so. Nestled on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, Puri is one of the four dhams. It attracts millions of people through out the year but mass hysteria grips this city when Lord Jagannath, his elder brother, Balabhadra and sister Subhadra comes out of the temple for Ratha Yatra, the annual sojourn to Gundicha temple. Interestingly, after over two decades, the rituals were conducted on time this year and the three chariots reached the Gundicha temple before the dusk.

Conducting Ratha Yatra involves lot of arrangements such as constructing the chariots, performing temple rituals, and making security arrangements for the masses. Chariot making itself is a herculean task; timber of a particular forest species, clothes are from Gujarat, and coir ropes from Kerala. The spending for Ratha Yatra appears to be around Rs 20 crore this year. The Jagannath Temple administraton, Ashok Meena refuses to guess the amount. It is not only the government but also corporate houses, voluntary organisations, philanthropic and religious outfits and individuals who contribute, he says. According to him, the government spends about Rs 2.5 crore for the festival. The private donation this year includes Rs 80 lakh spent for bedecking the Kalahatadwara with 300 kgs of silver and gold, Rs 20 lakh for lighting of the Narendra Pokhari. A religious organisation had organised free meal for two lakh people. With over a million devotees visiting Puri on Ratha Yatra, the citys one day business would be to the tune of Rs 50 crore, says Rabi Nayaran Nanda, the state tourism director.