Rath Yatra In The US: California Temple Continues Tradition, Despite The Odds

The coronavirus pandemic didn’t come in the way of Rath Yatra being celebrated at Fremont Hindu Temple in the Bay Area of California, USA, for the 26th year.

The popular festival was held on consecutive Saturdays, on June 27 and July 4 (Bahuda Yatra).

The holy festival attracts thousands of devotees. But this year, due to the restrictions which are in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, Rath Yatra was held in a restricted manner. The number of devotees was restricted to 20, with all participants maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.

For the 7000-plus devotees who missed out being there in person, a live telecast of the Ratha Yatra was organized to give them a look at the Holy Trinity on their TV sets, mobile phones and laptops.

“Due to the pandemic, all of our programmes such as Holi and Shivaratri were shut down. However, by Lord Jagannath’s grace, we could follow our annual tradition of completing rituals of Rath Yatra. It’s a blessing for us that due to the efforts of the temple management and a handful of devotees, this could be achieved,” said Fremont Temple chairman Dr Romesh Japra.

It was the late Deba Mohanty, a committed Odia devotee, who started Rath Yatra at Fremont Hindu Temple in the Silicon Valley a quarter of a century ago.

Fremont Temple president Rajesh Verma invited devotees to participate in the temple’s online activities.

The rituals were rounded off with bhajans by Bay Area artiste Alka Bhatnagar, Odia singers and devotees.

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