Odisha: The unique Rath Yatra of Dharakote
The Rath Yatra of Dharakote in Ganjam district of Odisha bears some unique features for which devotees from far off places flock here to witness the car festival.
Rath Yatra honours the connection between God and his devotees. This annual sojourn of Lord Jagannath and siblings is observed for nine days. On this occasion, devotees travel great distances to get a glimpse of the Lord atop his chariot to atone for their sins.
On the occasion of Bahuda Yatra the chariots are pulled at Dharakote on the Ekadashi day rather than Dashami. On this day, Ms. Sulaksana Gitanjali Devi, the princess, sits in the silver palanquin and makes her way to the chariot to perform the ritualistic worship.
After death of King Kishore Singh of Dharakote his daughter Ms Sulaksana Gitanjali Devi officially took over as the princess at the age of 14.
On the Rath Yatra day in the afternoon, after offering prayers to the Lords, Rani Sulaksana Gitanjali devi arrived at the chariot in a silver palanquin with her sister Shanti Priya Gitanjali and her counsels and performed the rituals.
Since Rath Yatra could not take place in the last two years due to the pandemic this year the fest in Dharakote witnessed a large crowd of devotees.
After completing her legal education at KIIT Deemed to be University, Rani Sulaksana Gitanjali Devi joined the Kingdom’s politics alongside her mother Nandini Devi. She is currently the Dharakote block Chairman. She said that performing the Ratha Yatra rites was an honour for her.