By Odisha Story Bureau, Bhubaneswar
Day after tomorrow, at Puri, we are going to celebrate world famous Rath Yatra (Car Festival), the most awaited Hindu festival in Odisha as well as in India. This year more than 10 lakhs devotees are expected to join the festival. Puri will be crowded with lakhs of devotees all the twelve days, from Srigundicha to Neeladri Bije (14th to 25th July). If you are visiting Puri during this period, here are a few tips that will help you enjoy the pilgrim city more.
The more early you reach Puri, there will be fewer hurdles to face. As the day breaks, gradually the traffic on the Highway to Puri will be increased. If you are staying in Puri it’s fine. Otherwise, try to start your journey before dawn and reach there as earliest as possible. It will also help you to find a suitable parking place if you are traveling by your own vehicle. Also, you will be able to find a place for yourself near the holy chariots.
Use Public Transport
It is better not to drive your own vehicle to Puri during Rath Yatra. Try to use public transport, if possible. You will find A/c and non A/c buses from Bhubaneswar and back morning to night. East Coast Railways (ECoR) is also providing 184 special trains to Puri during Rath Yatra. If you are going with family and coming back from Puri on the same day, you can take your own vehicle. But if your family has the plan to stay there overnight, never take your car. You will not be able to take your vehicle to your preferred places or hotel. And except the one near Narendra Pond, all parking places in Puri are far away from Grand road.
The weather during Rath Yatra is very peculiar. You will be sweating all the day, and again you may face rain also. Try to wear light weight dress, preferably formal or jeans pant with T-shirt or light sleeveless cotton shirt. There are chances of losing your shoes on Grand Road. Wear cheap sandals. Use a cap on your head, if you like it. Don’t take any belongings or luggage with you.
Every year there are reports of ornament snatching in Puri during the car festival. Avoid any kind of costly possession on your visit. Don’t wear any kind of jewellery. Also, try not to wear a costly wrist watch, bracelets etc. Even don’t take your wallet. If you are staying in a Hotel, keep your wallet there and take a few rupees with you. Otherwise, keep your wallet and mobile phones in your front pockets. Try not to wear sunglasses also.
If you are staying in a hotel, it’s not an issue. But if you are a visitor for few hours, try to eat healthy foods before you reach Puri. During Rath Yatra, finding good food is a distance dream. If even you are lucky to spot one place, your pocket may not support the cost of your food. Take sufficient water.
Don’t try to trespass the police cordon around chariots. It’s for your safety only. Don’t try to touch the chariots. You will find a maximum number of devotees near the police cordon. Please, keep yourself away from there. Believe it, you can see properly and enjoy the chariot from a distance. Only pass holders can enter the cordon.
If you get a chance to hold the ropes and pull the chariot, be careful. There are trained police personnel to pull the chariot. Follow them. Don’t pull it abruptly. If you are not following the rule, there will be chances of stamped. Each year Rath Yatra sees numerous casualties.
Don’t Go Up
By law, it will be an offense if you are climbing up the chariots and touching Bigrahas. However, when chariots are standing still, you will be allowed to touch it. If even someone offers you a climb, won’t accept it. Earlier, the Daitapati priests were opposed to the idea of putting any restriction on the devotees on climbing the chariots of Lord Jagannath. In 2014, Odisha Govt. however succeeded to convince Daitapatis.
Enjoy Free Wi-Fi
Good news for you. If you are in Puri, now you can enjoy free wi-fi. For this, you have to walk to railway station. From 2016 Rath Yatra, free Wi-Fi facilities are available at Puri station.
Know Before Go
If you are new to Puri, know everything about the city before you start your journey. There are many temporary facilities provided by Government free of cost during Rath Yatra. There are parking faculties, there are free shuttle bus services, rest sheds etc. You can collect the information booklets from information centers at the entrance of the city.
Have a safe and enjoyable Rath yatra. Jay Jagannath!!