||Over 15,000 devotees, well-wishers
and residents of Kolkata participated in the annual Rath Yatra celebrations
organised by the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir.
beautifully decorated 30ft. long, 13ft. wide and 45ft. high rath
(chariot) of wood was made by experienced BAPS sadhus and devotees.
At 3.00 pm on Friday 8 July 2005,
the murtis of Bhagwan Swaminarayan, Gunatitanand Swami and the
guru parampara, together with the murtis of Shri Jagannathji,
Shri Balramji and Shri Subhadraji were seated in the chariot.
Then, to the accompaniment of Vedic verses pujan of the murtis
was performed by Pujya Bhagvatpriya Swami, Mahant of the BAPS
Swaminarayan Mandir in Kolkata, Shri Yukta Chuni Goswami, the
Sheriff of Kolkata; Shri Dinesh Tivedi, MP and other invited dignitaries.
After the pujan ceremony, the invited
guests swept the ground in front of the rath with a golden brush,
as per tradition. They then pulled the rath using the 100 ft.
long ropes attached to the front to herald the start of the 4
km colourful rath yatra (procession).
Preceding the rath, from the beginning,
were uniformed motorcyclists, Bengali sharnai players, traditionally
dressed women and young girls singing bhajans, balaks of the Pramukh
Dhwani Band playing traditional tunes, young boys chanting dhun,
Chinese boys performing dragon dance and sadhus and male devotees
pulling the rath in turn.
Behind the rath were devotees from
Orissa singing traditional bhajans and, finally, a vehicle carrying
packets of prasad which were distributed to the people en route.
Thousands of people eagerly pulled the rath through the 4 km procession
which concluded at 7.00 pm.
Finally, the arti was performed to
mark the end of this most colourful, enjoyable and inspiring rath