On the appointed day, London hosts the first-ever Rath Yatra, honoring Lord Jagannath.

LONDON: For the first time ever in London, a chariot carrying idols of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Devi Subhadra, along with his weapon, the holy Sudarshana, was pulled by devotees through the streets of Southall, celebrating Rath Yatra on the designated auspicious day.Organised by Shree Jagannatha Society (SJS), UK, hundreds of devotees gathered at Britain’s oldest Hindu temple, Shri Ram Mandir in Southall, to participate in Lord Jagannath’s Rath Yatra on July 1.Rituals were conducted as per the religious procedures laid out in Skanda Purana.The nine-day Rath Yatra marks the annual ceremonial procession of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra to Gundicha Mandir, abode of their aunt, and is the only festival in the world where deities are taken out of temples to mingle and travel with devotees.The rituals in Southall began with the consecration of the chariot, hand-constructed and decorated by Jagannath devotees in the UK, following which the idols were brought to their throne and adorned. In a ceremonial Pahandi Yatra, the idols were carried to their chariot and the ceremonial sweeping was performed before it was pulled through Southall with cymbals ringing and conches being blown amidst cries of “Hari Bol” before being escorted to a room acting as the Gundicha Mandir where the deities will reside for nine days.Chetan Shatapathy, SJS, UK trustee, said: “We hope very soon we will have the first dedicated Shree Jagannath Mandir in the UK and then we can have a yatra with thousands of devotees.”

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