Puri: In a departure from tradition, a group of tourists from Japan observed a community Rath Yatra. They carried Jagannath on their shoulders instead of pulling the chariot. The foreigners took part in the Rath Yatra, organized by India Japan Friendship Centre (IJFC), a voluntary organization working for promotion of tourism between the two countries.”We have been organizing Rath Yatra in Puri since 2011 for Japanese tourists only. During the previous years, Japanese tourists pulled the chariot. This time, we arranged a small palanquin and placed the Jagannaths idol in it. The foreigners took out a procession by carrying the palanquin,” IJFCs president Srimanta Dash told mediapersons.
Dash said he did not face any criticism for using a palanquin for Rath Yatra. Neither we nor the foreigners showed any disrespect to the deity, he said.
Even as the giant chariots of Jagannath and his siblings continue to be the major crowd puller, the car festival of the foreign tourists grabbed the attention of many pilgrims in the hallowed town. Chanting Jai Jagannath, the foreigners played their musical instruments during the procession.
“It is the second time I took part in the community Rath Yatra. I brought a small drum with me to beat during the procession. I enjoyed it a lot,” said Nachoso Niyahara.
On her maiden visit to Puri, Kato Lio, another Japanese visitor, said she would make a small documentary on Rath Yatra. “I first went to Grand Road and was amused to see a huge crowd in front of the three chariots of Jagannath Temple. I videographed the moments and then participated in the festival. I have shot the community yatra too,” said Lio.