Ratha Yatra (Hindu Festival of Chariots) will be the central spectacle of international Festival of India planned to be held in Lagos (Nigeria) on August 13, reports suggest.
It is like getting a taste of India and Hinduism without leaving Lagos.
Besides Ratha Yatra, it will also reportedly include parade of various groups displaying diverse costumes/dresses and dances of India; performances by internationally renowned Indian and other dancers, musicians and dramatic artists; free vegetarian feast; transcendental art; etc.
Organizers expect international dignitaries from all over the world attending the Festival and efforts are said to being made for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to attend. Bolaji Rosiji, Gaurapad Charities CEO, is the chairman of the organizing committee of this Festival to be held at Tafawa Balewa Square, Onikan, Lagos; according to reports.
Meanwhile, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, commended efforts of the organizers and Lagos community to realize this wonderful festival, said to be exhibiting the richness of Hinduism and India.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism.
Rath Yatra is said to be the oldest known parade in the world and it is believed that pullers of this Lord Jagannatha’s chariot receive immense spiritual benefit. Popularized outside India by International Society for Krishna Consciousness founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, this annual parade festival has reportedly been held annually in over 50 major cities in USA, Canada, Europe, etc., since 1960s.
The original Ratha Jatra is held on a grand scale in Puri (Odisha, India), where the presiding deities of Sri Mandira—Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra—with celestial wheel Sudarshana are driven on the chariots to about two miles north Gundicha temple in an elaborate ritual procession, where the huge colorfully decorated chariots are drawn by thousands of devotees. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode in Sri Mandira. A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be highly auspicious and even a touch of the chariot is believed to yield benefits equivalent to several pious deeds. Many poets have written its glories. This year, it will be held on July six.
Rajan Zed points out that ancient Hindu scripture Katha Upanishad talks about the concept of chariot, where soul is the deity, body is the chariot, and intellect the charioteer. Skanda Purana glorifies Rath Jatra’s sanctity.