Ahmedabad: Drowned in religious fervour and gaiety, Ahmedabad is on Saturday witnessing the 138th edition of Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra, which is coinciding with Eid-ul-Fitr, amid tight security arrangements with thousands of personnel pressed into service to ensure smooth conduct of the celebrations. The Chariot of Lord Jagannath rolled out on the roads this morning from the over 400-year old temple in Jamalpur area here and will travel along a 14-km-route across the city, where lakhs of devotees will seek blessings. Rathyatra or chariot festival is celebrated by Hindus on the second day of Sukla Paksha (waxing cycle of moon) in the month of Ashadh. Coincidentally, Eid-ul-Fitr, which is celebrated after the end of 30 days' fasting in the holy month of Ramzan, also falls today. Ramzan or Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is observed as a fasting period by Muslims, who abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset and culminates in Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations. The city, which is infamous for a history of communal riots, is witnessing Eid-ul-Fitr and Lord Jagannath's Rath Yatra simultaneously after around 30 years and followers of both the religions have pledged to avoid any untoward eventuality during the celebrations. Religious leaders of both the communities exchanged sweets and flowers while wishing each other as Mahant Dilip Dasji Maharaj of Jagannath Temple visited Muslim clerics during 'Iftar' and followers of Islam here also offered flowers and cuisines to the Lord's temple. As per the tradition, Chief Minister Anandiben Patel performed 'Pahind Vidhi', a symbolic ritual to clean the way of the route where the Lord's chariot will roll on, after which the annual Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, elder brother Lord Baldev and their sister Devi Subhadra, began. The procession of the Rath Yatra comprises 18 elephants, 100 trucks, 30 religious congregations, 18 singing troupes, three chariots and seven cars. It will pass through some communally sensitive areas such as Kalupur, Prem Darwaja, Delhi Chakla, Dariyapur and Shahpur in the old city. The Rath Yatra will take a break for afternoon meal in Saraspur area of the city, which is considered as the Lord's maternal home, where around 5 lakh devotees will have meals. "To avoid any unpleasant turn of events due to clash of two major festivals Eid and Rath Yatra, especially in communally sensitive areas, the state police have taken many new initiatives," said Director General of Police PC Thakur. Thakur stated that meetings were also held with clerics of various mosques which fall on the yatra route. Around 20,000 uniformed men of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed to maintain the law and order situation. According to Joint Commissioner of Police (Special branch), Vikas Sahay, these personnel include 8 IG and DIG level officers, 28 SPs, 75 DySPs, 204 Police Inspectors, 450 Police Sub Inspectors, 10,000 constables, 5,000 Homeguards. Besides, 50 companies of State Reserve Police and other paramilitary forces, such as Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force and Rapid Action Force have been deployed. Each company comprises around 80 to 90 personnel. To stop any miscreants from using terraces of houses on narrow lanes, especially in the communally sensitive areas on the route, cops are also using three unmanned Aerial Vehicles called 'Netra', Sahay said. Police have also installed 50 CCTV cameras at various strategic locations on the route. The live feed of all these cameras can be seen by us on the video wall of main control room, said Sahay. Apart from the main Rath Yatra organised in Ahmedabad, a total of 146 different Rath Yatra processions of Lord Jagannath as well as other deities are organised across the state, including in major cities like Bhavnagar, Surat, Vadodara, Anand and Rajkot. Security arrangements in these cities have also been beefed up.
138th Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath begins in Ahmedabad; Eid-ul-Fitr also being celebrated
Updated : 18 July 2015 6:39 AM GMT