Darjeeling: Even the Gods haven't been able to resist the luxury of modern technology. Lord Jagannath, his brother Lord Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra are all set to trade their age-old chariot for fast wheels in Siliguri for this year's Rath Yatra.
On the occasion of the Chariot festival on Friday, the trio will be heading to their aunt's house (Gundicha temple) in Innova cars.
As custom has it, on the day of Rath Yatra, Lord Jagannath, accompanied by his siblings, comes out in wooden chariots and takes a ride to the aunt's house, meeting devotees en route. After spending a week at his aunt's house, they return back to the main temple.
"Earlier, we used to take Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra on a single chariot through the main thoroughfares of Siliguri. They used to then return to the temple premises and were kept on a specially-prepared platform for a week before returning to the main temple. This year, however, there is a change," stated Nam Krishna Das, Communication Officer, ISKCON, Siliguri. This year, a spot has been earmarked in Shivmandir on the outskirts of Siliguri town opposite gate number 2 of the North Bengal University. A pandal has been erected where religious festivities will be held for a week. The Lord and his siblings will be putting up in the house of a devotee, adjacent to this spot, which will be treated as the Gundicha Temple.
The police were reluctant to give permission for the slow-moving chariots to be pulled to Shivmandir through the congested roads. "We then decided to use Innovas to transport the Gods. This will help avoid the traffic jams," added Das.
However, devotees need not worry. The trio will first take a trip around Siliguri in the wooden chariot (like previous years), return to the temple and then ride three separate Innovas to the Gundicha temple.
"Every year we have one single Rath (chariot.) However, we have decided to have three smaller sized hydraulic chariots from next year. Overhead wires are a big problem so we have designed hydraulic chariots that can negotiate through the overhead wires and cables," added the communication officer.
The old wooden chariot has got a fresh coat of paint. The Lords will traverse the ISKCON temple, Sevok Road, Hill Cart Road, Haiderpara route to return to the ISKCON temple in the wooden chariot. From the temple they will then proceed to their aunt's house in Shivmandir in Innovas.
"It is not possible to transfer the idols to the cars from the Rath in the middle of the road. Hence, after the chariot ride, they will first return to the temple," explained Das.