Kolkata, July 13 (Calcutta Tube) Thousands of devotees and foreign tourists chanting ‘Hare Krishna’ Tuesday pulled the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra during the annual Ratha Yatra (chariot festival) here.
Organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON, the procession with the deities astride three chariots snaked its way from Park Circus Maidan of South Kolkata to reach the Ganga Sagar Mela near Babughat in the central part of the city.
The Rath Yatra marks the annual journey of the three deities from their abode to their aunt’s house.
Monks of the ISKCON order who arrived from various parts of the globe distributed prasad as Mayor Sovan Chatterjee swept the streets with a gold-plated broom flagging off the festival. Union Minister Subodh Kant Sahay was also present as a special invitee.
The chariots would be kept at Babughat for the next seven days before making the return journey or ‘Ulta Rath’.
Over 10,000 pilgrims attended the Rath Yatra festival at Mahesh in Hooghly district. A few lakh devotees have also gathered at Mayapur in Nadia district on the occasion.
Wooden replicas of the chariots of all sizes sold like hot cakes across the city, with children merrily pulling their own chariots in the lanes and bylanes.
Month-long Ratha Festivals have started in various parts of the city, including Moulali in central Kolkata and Rashbehari in the south.
Security has been beefed up in the city and the outskirts to prevent untoward incidents during the festival.
‘We have provided adequate security cover to the festival,’ said Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquaters) Javed Shamim.