Indefinite bandh halts Lord Jagganath’s travel plans in Darjeeling
Darjeeling, June 25, 2017: Bandhs not only paralyze the lives of mere mortals, even the travel plans of Gods get affected in bandhs. Lord Jagannath got caught in an indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling Hills and could not go around on his annual tour of the town on Sunday.
Owing to the ongoing indefinite bandh imposed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) since June 15, Darjeeling did not witness the more than 100 year old Rath Yatra (chariot festival of Lord Jagganath) on Sunday.
Rath Yatra or Chariot Festival is a Hindu festival associated with Lord Jagannath. Though it is celebrated throughout the country it is usually associated with Puri, the temple town of Odisha.
The "Rath Yatra" in Darjeeling is organized by the Thakurbari. The idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram and Goddess Subhadra are taken around town in a Rath (chariot) by devotees every year.
"This year owing to the bandh we did not take the Rath around town. As a symbolic gesture we took the Rath around the temple courtyard" stated Pundit Salik Mishra, the main priest of the Thakurbari temple. Though the exact date of the construction of the Temple is not known, books on the history of Darjeeling claim that the temple certainly existed before 1830.
"For the past 100 years the Rath Yatra is being organized by the Thakurbari. However this year owing to the bandh we could not take the Rath out on the streets. Prasad (offerings) for the puja is not available. We had even booked a band from Siliguri to accompany the procession but we were compelled to cancel it as the band would not be able to drive up from Siliguri owing to the ongoing bandh" stated Mishra.
Meanwhile the Morcha has decided to give a 12 hour travel relaxation for the Muslim community for the festival of Id on Monday. "People of the Muslim community can ply in vehicles from 6am to 6pm on Monday. They can visit relatives and friends. Muslims from far flung places can ply in vehicles to mosques located in the towns to offer prayers" stated Norbu G Lama, GJM leader.
However many in the Muslim community are not too amused at this 12 hour vehicular relaxation. "What is the use of a vehicular relaxation when we don't have food at home.
Even the festive dish of "Sewai" cannot be prepared on the day of Id as Sewai is not available owing to the bandh. Even in 2013 we had to observe Id in a similar GJM indefinite bandh" lamented a person from the Muslim community from Kurseong. He did not want to be named fearing political retribution.
A special prayer service was organized at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception located at Loreto Convent in Darjeeling on Sunday evening. "We are praying for peace in this region" stated Bishop Stephen Lepcha.