Kolkata, July 15: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will inaugurate the famous Kolkata Rathayatra, organised by ISKCON, on July 18, the religious group said on Wednesday.
Around four to five lakh devotees are expected to pull the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra on the occasion, with the yatra winding up its way through the major thoroughfares of Kolkata after starting from the Hungerford Street opposite the ISKCON temple at Albert Road.
Banerjee will reach the temple at around 10.45 a.m. and after a 'darshan', flag off the annual journey of the Athree deities.
"We have had to change the route for this year, as Eid falls on the same day. So in support of the Muslim brotherhood and in order not to cause them any problems, we will take a new route," AISKCON rathyatra chairman Anand Mohan Das told reporters here.
The chariots will wade though Minto Park, Sarat Bose Road, Hazra Road, Hazra crossing, Ashutosh Mukherjee Road, Exide Crossing, J.L Nehru Road and then finish at Brigade Parade Ground from the Outram road.
"This is also the first time that a chief minister will visit the ISKCON temple," he said.
At the Brigade Ground, there will be a daily special darshan of Lord Jagananth from July 18 to 25. Prasad will also be distributed.
Cultural programmes would include shows by the Dona Ganguly dance troop and performances from foreigners who will travel to the city for the festival.
IIT Kharagpur students will hold classes on reducing stress and mental-fatigue.
Das said stalls will be installed for married couples and family members who can ask questions about their day to day problems.
On July 26, it will be the 'ultarathayatra' where the 'ratha' will undertake the reverse journey to the Albert Road temple.
On the return journey, the chariots will go through J.L Nehru Road, Esplande, S.N Banerjee Road, C.I.T Road, Suhrawardy Avenue, Shakespeare Sarani and Hungerford street.
Asked which Tollywood celebrities are likely to be present at the event, Das said: "Like every year, I hope many will turn up but no one has confirmed yet."