As per the annual custom, a grand
Rath Yatra celebration was organized by the BAPS Swaminarayan
Mandir in Kolkata.
A grand 35 ft high and 12 ft wide
chariot was made by the devotees. On the side of the chariot
were ten sections, each housing one of the ten main avatars
of Sanatan Hindu Dharma. Inside the chariot the murtis of Bhagwan
Swaminarayan, Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami, Shri Jagannathji,
Subhadraji and Balramji were ceremoniously placed, to the accompaniment
of Vedic mantras.
The initial Vedic pujan ceremony
was conducted by BAPS sadhus and performed by Shri Pranav Mukharji,
Defense Minister of India. Also present were Shri Baichang Bhutia
- India's football team captain, Shri Tapas Pal, Shri Subrata
Bakshi, Shri Ravi Todi, Shri Satyanarayan Bajaj and other dignitaries.
At the start of the procession,
the dignitaries pulled the 40 ft long ropes attached to the
chariot. Leading the procession were balaks in traditional costumes.
Also part of the procession were youths of the BAPS Pramukh
Dhwani Band, devotees from Orissa singing bhajans and Udiya
Young girls and women devotees
also participated in the procession, dressed in traditional
costumes and singing bhajans.
The 8 km route passed through the
streets of Kolkata and returned to the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir
at 7.00 pm. The concluding arti was performed by Bhagwatpriya