Ludhiana: The Krishna-Balram Rath Yatra was held on a large scale on Sunday and worshipers were full of enthusiasm throughout the course, which was decorated by various sponsors.
However, the Covid-19 protocol was ignored, as large numbers of people gathered in one place and a large majority of them were without face masks. The organizers said they had offered masks and disinfectants to the faithful of the march, but could not find any takers. “We cannot force anyone to wear the mask,” said an organizer.
The decorated chariot began its journey from Durga Mata Mandir, carrying the idols of Lord Jagannath (Krishna), his brother, Balaram, and his sister, Subhadra. The float headed for Nav Durga Mandir after crossing the Stadium Road, Chowk Fountain, Ghumar Mandi Road and Ferozepur Road, with devotees lined up to receive the procession and get a glimpse of the Lord.
The rath yatra had several attractions for the devotees, as the priests of Haridwar performed the Maha Aarti in the same way as the Ganga Aarti for the sacred river. At the stalls, people were offered edibles. “This is the only time the Lord Himself comes out of the temple to shower His blessings on the devotees, so how can the devotees stay at home,” said Pankaj, one of the devotees, who said that participating in this procession had always been a great experience for him.
The procession created some difficulties for commuters as the route from Old Session Chowk to Fountain Chowk, from Bharat Nagar Chowk to Fountain Chowk and from Aarti Chowk to gate number 2 of PAU remained blocked. In some places, the police had to erect barricades to separate the procession from normal traffic. The entire road to Ghumar Mandi was closed to traffic.
Channi declares Rath Yatra “state festival”
Signaling the rath yatra, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Charanjit Singh Channi, declared it a “state festival” and announced a donation of 2.51 crore rupees for the Iskcon temple in Ludhiana.
Addressing the rally near Shri Durga Mata Mandir, Channi said he had high regard for Srimad Bhagvadgita, and that when he became a city councilor about 25 years ago, a noble soul advised him to recite one shloka per day of this holy test for inner peace. He said, “The holy book has given direction to my life. Young people should soak up the teachings of the Gita and practice them. Drinking just one shloka was enough to be successful in life.
He said the government of Punjab was developing a Gita and Ramayana research center on 20 acres in Patiala, as these religious texts were a great source of inspiration for people. He said: “Scholars will draw their wisdom from the epic texts of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Srimad Bhagvadgita to deepen our knowledge. “