Bhubaneswar: With Rath Yatra round the corner, all eyes are now on the Baral family of Sahid Nagar here. And the reason is not far to see.
Similar to the main festival in Puri, the Baral household has been hosting its own chariot festival for the past 11 years.
This year, the festivities will begin with Nabayoban Darshan on July 2. Hundreds of devotees in and around the area are expected to flock to the Rath Yatra hosted by the family.
The tradition began at the Baral family after a chance discussion that Swastik Baral had with his grandfather about the latter’s devotion for Lord Jagannath. Swastik’s grandfather, who shared a strong bond with him since his childhood, gave him the idea of celebrating the fervour that people have for the sibling deities.
“My grandfather was very happy and said that there could be no better way than celebrating Rath Yatra. Every family member saves a small amount of their earnings for the festival. During the festival, the entire amount is spent on the arrangements.” Swastik said.
The Rath Yatra hosted by the family is very popular in the neighbourhood, and neighbours, friends and acquaintances also make contributions for the celebrations.
On the the day of the festival, the sibling deities are taken out in a procession as devotees dance to the tunes of ghantua, conches, trumpets and drums.
“Many of us are not able to go to Puri during the chariot festival so this is our chance to get closer to the Lord. Along with the family, we also take part in the arrangements. It is like a celebration for and a chance to get close to each other,” said Rajkishore Behera, a resident of the area.
Invitations are being sent out and arrangements are at its peak. “Cultural programmes are also held during the festival,” said Swastik.
The women members of the family also prepare Poda Pitha as it is a tradition for Lord Jagannath to stop at the Mausi Maa temple during Bahuda Yatra and have a bite of the delicacy before returning to his abode.
Last year, the Baral family brought out three chariots. And the tradition will continue this year. Being an artist, the chariots are created by Swastik and few of his artist friends.
“The chariots are made using wood, sunboard and other items. The entire process of is very fulfilling and enhances my connection with the Lord,” admitted the architecture student.
The Bahuda Yatra will be held on July 12 and the festivities will conclude on July 15 with Niladri Bije.
“This year we are also creating silver headgears for the Trinity and also adding statues of nartaki (traditional dancers) to the chariots,” said Baral.
The Rath Yatra celebrated by Patro family at Berhampur is also very popular. Devotees pull the chariot of the Trinity from their abode at Brahma Nagar, which is a small shrine at the house of late Arjuna Patro, who was a lawyer, to the Mausi Maa temple located nearby.
The festival has been conducted by Patro family for the past 11 years with the cooperation and help of local residents.