When a young PM Modi led ‘Swayambhu Rath Yatra’ amid restrictions

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday extended his greetings on the occasion of the Jagannath Rath Yatra, sharing a video of his previous visits to Puri, Odisha.

“Greetings on the start of the sacred Rath Yatra. We bow to Mahaprabhu Jagannath and pray that His blessings constantly remain upon us,” the Prime Minister said in a post on X.

Reflecting on the Rath Yatra of Gujarat in 1985, Modi Archives recounted how PM Modi “refused to accept the Congress-imposed ban” on the yatra due to communal violence.

“In 1985-86, in an attempt to appease their voter base, the incumbent Congress government in Gujarat imposed a ban on the 101st Jagannath Rath Yatra. Bans and curfews during the Jagannath Rath Yatra were common under Congress rule. However, a determined young man refused to accept this ban and made efforts to defy it. Behind the scenes, preparations for the yatra continued. The chariot was readied, and Mahaprabhu was placed upon it,” Modi Archives said in a post on X.

During this yatra, an incident led to the state government’s restrictions becoming ineffective. When the police tried to re-route the procession, the elephants involved in the festival broke free of their restraints, pulling the chariot forward.

The Jagannath Rath Yatra then proceeded with a grand procession led by Narendra Modi, earning the name ‘Swayambhu Rath Yatra.’

After Narendra Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, the Rath Yatra has been celebrated in the state every year with great pomp and enthusiasm, with thousands of devotees participating in the journey of Lord Jagannath.

In accordance with traditions, Modi also participated in the ceremonial cleaning of the road where the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balram, and Subhadra pass.

–IANS

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