Vadodara man's solar-powered 'Robo Rath Yatra' tribute to Lord Jagannath
For Makwana's 'Robo Rath Yatra' the chariot is operated through a remote control.
Every year as the famed Rath Yatra commences in Odisha's Puri, a man in Vadodara for the past nine years has been taking out a chariot procession of his own to commemorate the occasion.
Unlike the ancient Rath Yatras in Puri and the one in Gujarat's Ahmedabad where majestic chariots on which the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra are pulled by a large number of devotees, the one organised by Jai Makwana uses a robot to power a motor chariot that carries an idol of Lord Jagannath.
For Makwana's 'Robo Rath Yatra' the chariot is operated through a remote control. This year, he took another step forward by making the chariot motor solar-powered.
Makwana says that he got the idea nine years ago, prompted by the fact that every year, in Jagannath Puri, a new chariot is made from fresh wood. The environment-conscious and nature-loving Jai created a robot-driven chariot considering this problem. In this remote-operated chariot, a robotic motor is made, and the structure of the chariot is fitted on it.
This year Jai has gone above and beyond by using solar-charged batteries in the robotic motor. Solar panels have also been fitted on the top of the chariot which seats the Sudarshan Chakra.
Jai insists that if science is used without humility, it can lead to destruction.
"That's why we set out on this kind of Robo Rath Yatra to spread the message of discretion in science," he says.
The Rath Yatra is celebrated on the second day of the two-week-long Ashadha month of the Hindu calendar, and this year, it takes place on June 20.
It is one of the famous Hindu festivals celebrated across the world. The Yatra is associated with Lord Jagannath at Shri Kshetra Puri Dham in Odisha. At Puri, idols of Lord Jagannath and his two siblings- elder brother Lord Balabhadra and younger sister Devi Subhadra installed on majestic chariots give darshan to the public and visit the Gundicha Temple.
The three majestic chariots are pulled by lakhs of devotees from in front of the Singha Dwar of Jagannath Temple towards the Gundicha Temple.
The Yatra's history is also depicted in Hindu scriptures like Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, Skanda Purana and Kapila Samhita.
Apart from Jai's place in Vadodara, the Rath Yatra is also celebrated in other parts of Gujarat. The Ahemdabad Rath Yatra is considered the second-biggest Rath Yatra in the country after the Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra in Odisha.
The 146th Rath Yatra in Ahmedabad commenced early Tuesday morning from the Jagannathji Temple in Ahmedabad. Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is on a day-long visit to Gujarat, took part in the 'Mangla Aarti' (part of worship) at Jagannath temple in the Jamalpur area of the city.
A more recent tradition of holding it in Rajkot (Gujarat) has been practised for the last 16 years. This year the Saurashtra region is observing its longest-yet Rath Yatra in Rajkot, with a route of 23 kilometres.