Odia Community celebrates Rathajatra in Auckland

Odia Community celebrates Rathajatra in Auckland

Venkat Raman
Auckland, July 24, 2019

Folk dances of Odisha at the Auckland event (Picture Supplied)

The small but well-knit Odia community marked the ‘Rathajatra’ Ceremony focusing on families and children on July 20, 2019 at Athol Syms Hall in Epsom, Auckland.

“We did not have a Chariot and the Ceremony was not as elaborate as it is in Odisha (formerly Orissa) but the idea was to bring together our people and begin to celebrate our culture. We are still getting to know each other,” Prem Nepak, President of the Odia Community told Indian Newslink.

The Programme included cultural items including the Classical Dance of Odissi and Drama on Lord Jagannath by children, while women presented Odia dances.

As well as rendering songs popular in their Home State and Bhajans, men amused the audience with a dance number, which Prem said evinced the interest of all.

“Worship of Lord Jagannath is traditional. The Association is in the process of being registered and the enthusiasm of our members was encouraging. They prepare special food items that are popular in Odisha and other parts of India,” Prem said.

Children depicting the Triad of Lord Jagannath (Picture Supplied)

About Lord Jagannath

Regarded as the ‘Lord of the Universe,’ Jagannath is considered as a part of Lord Vishnu, as a triad with his Brother Balabhadra and Sister Subhadra.

Jagannath is also considered an abstract representation of Lord Krishna, to some worshippers of Lord Shiva (Shaivites) as ‘Bhairava,’ and to some Buddhists as the ‘Buddha-Sangha-Dhamma triad.

About Odia

Odia is the official language of Odisha where native speakers make up 82% of the population. It is also spoken in parts of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. It is the sixth Indian language to be designated a Classical Language in India on the basis of its long literary history. 

The earliest known inscription in Odia dates back to the 10th century AD.

About Rathajatra

Rathajatra, also stated as ‘Rathayatra’ or Chariot Festival is a public procession in a Chariot. The term particularly refers to the annual Rathajatra in Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal and other East Indian states.

Young Performers of the Odia Community (Picture Supplied)

In essence, the Odia Festival involves a public procession of a Chariot with the triad of Lord Jagannath (Vishnu Avatar), Balabhadra, Subhadra and His Sudarshana Chakra.

The Ratha is a wooden deula-shaped ‘vehicle.’

Men amused the audience with their performance (Picture Supplied)

The Rathajatra attracts over a million Hindu pilgrims to Puri (a City, about 60 kms to the South of State Capital Bhubaneshwar) every year.

Rathajatra processions have been historically common in Vishnu (Jagannath, Rama, Krishna) and Shive-related traditions in Hinduism in India, Saints and Goddesses in Nepal, with Tirthankaras in Jainism, as well as tribal folk religions found in the eastern states of India. Notable Rathajatras in India include the Rathajatra of Puri, the’ Dhamrai Ratha Yatra and the ‘Ratha Yatra of Mahesh.’

Hindu communities outside India such as in Singapore, celebrate Rathajatra associated with Jagannath, Krishna, Shiva and Mariamman (a form of Shakthi). 

For further information about the Odia Community, please call Prem Nepak on  021-2169243. Email: prem.nepak@gmail.com


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