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Rath Yatra 2016: Lord Jagannath begins his 9-Day sojourn amid tight security

Lord Jagannath's chariot, called Nandighosh and is is 45.6 feet high and has 18 wheels

Rath Yatra 2016. Image source:
  • The celebrations mark the visit of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram and their sister Devi Subhadra to their aunt’s house for nine days
  • The preparations for the yatra are known to start well in advance, to celebrate the grandness of the festival
  • Amid the fêtes, PM Narendra Modi took to his Twitter handle and wished the nation on the annual occasion of Rath Yatra

Jagannath Rath Yatra is a splendid Hindu festival, which calls out for fervour every year. The celebrations mark the visit of Lord Jagannath (a manifestation of Krishna), Lord Balaram (Balabhadra) and their sister Devi Subhadra to their aunt’s house for nine days.

While the cities get all decked up, the journey to and from their aunt’s house at Shri Gundicha temple are the two important days of festivities, which are celebrated in the seaside town of Puri in Odisha. This year, in 2016, the two days will be July 6 (when the two idols will leave for their aunt’s house) and July 14 (when they’ll return to Jagannath temple, also called Bahuda Yatra).

Being the grandest festival in the city, and in the state, to say the least, the preparations for the yatra are known to start well in advance.  The arrangements begin with the decoration of the elaborate wooden chariots that are pulled by ropes by thousands of devotees. Lord Jagannath’s chariot, called Nandighosh, is 45.6 feet tall and has 18 wheels. Taladhvaja is the name of Lord Balaram’s chariot and is 45 feet high and has 16 wheels and Devi Subhadra’s chariot, Devadalana, stands at 44.6 feet and has 14 wheels.

Signifying that all are equal in the eyes of Lord, the erstwhile rule of the state sweeps the path in front of the decked up rath with a broom having a golden handle and sprinkles sandalwood powder on both the days of the journey of the idols.

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Cognizant to the increasing terror threat to the pilgrim town, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took a stock of security arrangements. 145 platoons of armed police personnel including officers of various ranks have been deployed in and around the town to ensure that the yatra is carried out peacefully.

Director General of Police (DGP) KB Singh told The New Indian Express, “Multi-layer security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of the festival. CCTVs have been installed at various locations to keep a tab on the visitors.”

He further said that air surveillance and land patrolling would also be intensified.

Prime Minister Narendra Midi. Image Source: The Indian Express
Prime Minister Narendra Midi. Image Source: The Indian Express

Amid the fêtes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to his Twitter handle and extended his wishes to the nation on the annual occasion of Rath Yatra in a tweet that read, “On the occasion of Rath Yatra, my warmest greetings to you all. May Lord Jagannath continue to shower his blessings on everyone.”

He added, “May the blessings of Lord Jagannath lead to the development of villages, the well-being of poor & farmers and take India to new heights of progress.”

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Meanwhile, Ahmedabad is also celebrating the 139th edition of Lord Jagannath Yatra. BJP chief Amit Shah also offered his prayers at the Jagannath Temple here.

The rath yatra in Ahmedabad will begin from the 400-year old Jagannath temple at Jamalpur.

Considering that the procession will pass through some communally sensitive areas, almost 18,000 security personnel have been deployed at strategic locations throughout the route.

Sand chariots made by Sudarshan Patnaik. Image Source: The New Indian Express
Sand chariots made by Sudarshan Patnaik. Image Source: The New Indian Express

Interestingly, famous sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik also created a grand spectacle and another record for the Limca book by carving out 100 sand chariots on the beach.


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‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ Witnesses escalating BJP-Left Confrontation

Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Wikimedia

Hurling anti-left maneuver during Janaraksha Yatra Kerala, Indian BJP National President Amit Shah launched serious allegation against the ruling CPM government for triggering political violence and imputed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan the culpability for the mass killings of party workers in the state.

The BJP Chief traced back the origin of violence-centric politics in ”God’s Own Country” to the inception of the Communist regime. “Left always paralyses the state it rules. West Bengal and Tripura witnessed similar political vehemence under the CPM government”, elucidated the President.

Criticizing the Human Rights Activists of the nation, Amit Shah pointed out that they are very selective when it comes to what they support. “You turn your eyes away when our workers die. Why is there no march in Delhi? Violence has no color. More than 120 workers of the BJP have succumbed due to political violence so far. What was their fault? They were working for the betterment of Kerala”, complained the BJP Chief.

Acclaiming BJP’s ideology enthusiastically, Shah called upon the people to join as workers. Addressing the gathering at ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’, the President added that family members of the deceased have stood by the BJP and he wouldn’t let the martyrdom of the workers go waste.

Amit Shah inaugurated the ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ at Payyannur to protest against alleged killings of party workers. The “padayatra” was led by the party’s State President Kummanam Rajashekhharan.

The National President of BJP attributed the diminishing power of the CPM to their increasing reliance on political violence. Apart from CPM, the once dominating Congress is also losing momentum thereby giving BJP the opportunity to flourish with their ideology. “More the mud of violence, more the lotus will bloom” added Shah.

The BJP Chief assured his party workers and volunteers that BJP would fight the war with CPM until emerging victorious. Shah declared, “We must all unite against the rule of the Left Government.”

Shortly after the launching of the yatra, three BJP workers adorning the National Highway 66 were ambushed by anonymous men on Monday. During his address, Shah alleged that the assailants were CPM cadres who have also destroyed BJP flags in the area.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is ready to augment the saffron stand with his visit to Kerala on Wednesday. As per the report of Times Now, Adityanath will basically be in the Muslim-dominated district of Mallapuram.

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#SheMeansBusiness : Odisha Government Announces E-Platform for Women Entrepreneurs

The decision to encourage women to do business by using social media is a significant in bolstering women empowerment

SHG women running a cabinet manufacturing business. Wikimedia

Odisha, August 11, 2017: Odisha government has found a novel idea to empower women by allowing them to do business through Facebook- #SheMeansBusiness,  an e-business platform set up by a joint initiative of Facebook, MSME department of Odisha and Mission Shakti. The move is an indicator of the time when start-up revolution is changing entrepreneurship like never before.

The decision to encourage women to do business by using social media is a significant step by the state government to reinforce its business ecosystem and bolster women empowerment.

Women self help groups (SHGs) will now be able to sell their handcrafted products through #SheMeansBusiness.

It would help women exhibit their products across the country and worldwide and will also strengthen their socio-economic status. From ‘Badi’ made in Keonjhar and Ganjam to beautifully crafted ‘Chandua’ of Pipili, the platform will impel women to sell everything.

A workshop is being organized in the capital city to provide the necessary marketing and entrepreneurial skills to women.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stated at the inaugural program of the workshop, “This joint initiative by the government and Facebook is an innovative program to impart digital marketing skills to our women entrepreneurs particularly the SHGs. This can further strengthen the progress of our women and take their empowerment to a whole new level”, mentioned Odhisatv.

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In the first phase over the next one year, the government intends to train and around 25,000 women with basic skills and information on technology, teamwork, transparency which will enable them to carry out business operations smoothly.

On the other hand, women self-help groups are hopeful about the unconventional method of business. “Once we open accounts in Facebook we will be trained to sell our products online and hope to do more business with it,” said an SGH member.

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Eminent Gujarati playwright Taarak Mehta passes away at the age of 87

The nation is mourning the passing away of Taarak Mehta, well known author, humorist and columnist, and misses his humor already!

Taarak Mehta, Wikimedia

Ahmedabad, March 1, 2017:  Following a prolonged illness, Eminent playwright and humorist and Taarak Mehta, widely known for his Gujarati column “Duniya Ne Undha Chasma”, breathed his last today at the age of 87.

According to family sources, “the writer died at 87 after a prolonged illness due to age-related problems at his residence in the city.”

The writer’s family has made the decision to donate his body to be used in medical research purposes.

Mehta’s famous columns were first published in Gujarati weekly magazine ‘Chitralekha’ in 1971. His columns were adapted into a popular TV serial, “Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashma” in 2008 which made him a household name all across the country.

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Through Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his tributes to the writer in a series of tweets.

According to PTI reports, Modi tweeted, “Taarak Mehta’s writings always reflected India’s unity in diversity. His characters like Tappu live in people’s hearts.” The PM also said Mehta was a man who “never left the company of his pen and satire”, Along with a photo taken with Mehta.

“Tributes to famous playwright and humourist Taarak Mehta.He spent a lifetime dedicated to satire and pen.I have had the good fortune of meeting Taarak Mehta. I had also met him when he was honoured with the Padma Shri award,” he added.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also expressed his condolences following the writer’s demise. In his tweets he said, “Gujarati writer and Padma Shree (sic) Tarak Mehta ji passes aways. May his soul rest in peace.”

“Tarak Mehtaji will always be remembered for his rich contribution to society and the laughter he gave to millions,” in a tweet, BJP President Amit Shah stated, expressing grief over Mehta’s death.

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In the memory of Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Mehta is the person “who always brought smile to our faces.” He tweeted, “Saddened by the death of Tarak Mehta – humorist and columnist. He always brought smile to our faces.My condolences to family members.”

In his visit to Mehta’s residence to pay homage, the Senior state Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said, “The beauty of the writings of Tarak Mehta was that it had nothing against anyone, nothing vulgar and not even a bad word, but it made us all laugh. The loss is very grave.”

Mehta has authored numerous comedy plays and books. A number of columns in newspapers on contemporary issues have been penned by him as well.

Actor Jitendra Thakkar, who has acted in many plays written by Mehta, said, “His writing was a class apart. His writings did not have any vulgarity, but made generations laugh till pain in our stomaches.”

Several film and television actors have mourned his demise.

“Extremely saddened by the passing away of Shri Tarak Mehta… a great humorist in any language! RIP Mehta Saheb,” Bollywood actor Paresh Rawal tweeted.

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Actress Richa Chaddha stated, “Rip Tarak Mehta. Thank you for the humour. You shall be missed.”

According to Munmun Dutta, who plays the character of Babitaji in “Taarak Mehta ka Ooltah Chashma”, the writer was full of life despite poor health: “Saddened by the news of #TaarakMehta sir passing away.Last time when I met him, I could see his health failing him.He was still spirited… and full of life… My respect to him.”

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang