The stage is set for the grand celebrations of the annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra (Chariot procession) in Mumbai's Shivaji Park on January 30, the organisers said in Mumbai on Wednesday. The huge procession of Lord Jagannath, Baldev and Subhadra Maiya will attract over 3,00,000 devotees, according to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)'s spiritual head, Radhanath Swami Maharaj.
"For the first time, the idol of Lord Jagannath, Baldev and Subhadra Maiya will be brought here from Puri (Odisha) for tomorrow's Rath Yatra. The procession will be simultaneously carried out in 192 cities worldwide," Radhanath Swami told IANS.
He said this is the only global festival in which "the Lord himself is taken out of the temple to meet his devotees" and the Mumbai event is now ranked as the second-largest Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra in the world after Puri.
The theme for this year is 'Puri Dham' and a replica has been erected at Shivaji Park with huge seven-feet tall idols of Lord Jagannath, Baldev and Subhadra Maiya, specially brought this year for the Rath Yatra from Puri, seated on the dais.
The Maha Aarti for Lord Jagannath will start at 3 p.m. to be performed by Radhanath Swami and then thousands of devotees will pull the Rath from Shivaji Park to Shiv Sena Bhavan, Portuguese Church, Gokhale Road, Prabhadevi and back to Shivaji Park after three hours.
While the devotees -- many of them celebrities in their fields -- pull the huge chariot, other groups of devotees will clean the path with special brooms, others will make "rangolis" and shower flower petals on the route for the Lord to pass.
En route, 1,008 kgs of specially made "Khaja Prasad" will be distributed to all the devotees as they take "darshan" of Lord Jagannath.
After the return to Shivaji Park, there will be an offering of 108 "bhogas" to the Lord prepared by the devotees in decorative pots, which were being made since the past three months. The bhogas comprise several types of rice preparations, 20 vegetables, 11 "paneer" (fresh cheese) dishes, 21 different sweets, 21 "farsans" , 11 "parathas", seven salads and a host of other fruits, dry-fruits and juices.
This will be followed by cultural activities and other programmes, and conclude with a dinner "prasad" for all.
The founder acharya of ISKCON, Srila Prabhupada had organised the first Rath Yatra in 1968 in San Francisco and now it has become an annual global event celebrated in 192 cities world over.