Watch: Amit Shah feeds a temple elephant at Jagannath Temple
Lord Jagannath rath yatra proved to be a perfect photo-op movement. Home Minister Amit Shah, who is on a three-day visit to Gujarat, fed a temple elephant with sugarcane and bananas.
In the video, a smiling Amit Shah fed the temple elephant, in return, the Pachyderm is seen blessing the Minister
Hindu traditions give elephants an elevated status. They are an integral part of temple festivals and most temples in the country own several elephants.
Jagannath rath yatra
The King of Puri, the first servitor of Lord Jagannath, is known as the Gajapati, which means "master of elephants". Traditionally, as a mark of respect to the Gajapati, an elephant leads his ceremonial procession on the occasion of rath yatra.
Led by the pachyderm, the king reaches the three chariots of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, ready for their journey. The king sweeps the chariots with a golden broom. Only after the Gajapati performs this ritual and returns to his palace do the chariots start rolling and mark the beginning of the nine-day sojourn of the deities.
The tradition of engaging an elephant is associated with the car festival since time immemorial. However, it was discontinued after an elephant succumbed to injuries while returning from the yatra.
Instead of the usual cavalcade of around 100 trucks, decked up elephants, akhadas and singing troupes, this year's procession consisted of only three chariots, pulled by nearly 100 youths from the Khalasi community, and four to five other vehicles.