Lord Jagannath's return car festival held with fanfare
Kolkata: Rituals inside the makeshift Gundicha, where Lord Jagannath and his divine siblings Baladev, Subhadra stayed for the past eight days, marked the return car festival on Wednesday as the usual sight of pulling of chariots by a large number of devotees was again missing across West Bengal after the Rath Yatra day due to the COVID- 19 pandemic.
The situation was similar in the temples of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) at Mayapur in Nadia district and Kolkata, and the famous Rath Yatra at Mahesh in Hooghly district.
ISKCON Mayapur spokesman Subroto Das said unlike around 2 lakh people pulling three chariots on road, only monks, priests and some resident devotees participated in the programme.
He said 40 resident devotees from 30 countries painted colourful rangolis, flowers and prepared 'Chappan bhog' to mark the return journey of the deities to the Jagannath temple from the temporary Gundicha structure built within the same temple complex.
Close to a million devotees across the world watched it on various digital platforms.
At the ISKCONs Kolkata temple, monks brought Lord Jagannath and his siblings from the temporary Gundicha on the ground floor to the original place of the deities on the upper floor in the temple premises, spokesman Radharaman Das said.
Three small chariots were symbolically pulled in the temple compound to mark the return trip of the Lord.
Trinamool Congress MP Nusrat Jahan and her husband were present for sometime when rituals were performed and offered their prayers.
The ceremony was telecast live on the ISKCON Kolkatas Facebook and YouTube channels.
At Mahesh, the 624-year old Rathyatra in Hooghly district, three shaligram shila representing the deities inside the temple were taken back from the Gundicha temple to the Jagannath temple one km away, a temple committee spokesman said.
All rituals were performed "but we rue the fact that people couldn't pull the chariot on road during the Rath Yatra and as well the Ulto Rath (return journey) unlike previous years. Coronavirus took away the enthusiasm of the ceremony this year," he said.
The festival passed off sans any fanfare in the rest of the state.