Image courtesy: Sri Birchandra Singha
Rath Yatra is called 'Kaang' by our Bishnupriya Manipuri community. It is celebrated for 9 days in every home. On the first day and last day, the Rath of Jagannath is pulled by devotees as a ritual in the streets. Rath carrying Shri Jagannath being pulled on the first day is called 'Kaang' and the last (9th day) 'Fira Kaang'.
On both Kaang and Fira Kaang day, devotees in large numbers, wearing new clothes (many wearing similar clothes to distinguish one village devotees from another village devotees pulling the Rath) come to the streets to pull the Rath.
On all 9 days, Shri Jagannath is worshipped in accompaniment with the singing of bhajans, playing of dhol and other aarti instruments after dusk at the local temple. There is a Krishna temple (where all Hindu deities are worshipped) for each 15-20 families in the villages and towns. For those residing in the cities, such as in Delhi, devotees, in one of the nine days, gather in a chosen temple where they sing bhajans and celebrate in front of the photos of Jagannath. All devotees encompassing the young and the old including children assemble in the temple and participate in the celebration with zest. Bhajan on Jagannath and the Daashavatar of Bhagwan Vishnu is sung every night on all 9 days. This is followed by consumption of fruit prasad and Khichdi prasad.
Images courtesy: Dilip Kumar Sinha
According to our Bishnupriya Manipuri tradition, ripe jackfruit is the favourite fruit of Jagannath. I remember Maa offering jackfruit to Jagannath every Rath Yatra. We offer home-grown jackfruit and the legacy continues to this day.
Celebrating our festivals including even marriages, birthdays, and other functions in our local temples is a legacy we have been following since centuries in our Bishnupriya Manipuri community. Members of every age group including children and the elderly participate. Right from childhood, our community children are instilled with the lessons, rituals, and traditions of our culture that we have been following since ancient times. The reason why 99% of our Bishnupriya Manipuri community people are still Hindus and haven’t converted.
Manoshi Sinha is a Dharmic nationalist and a Best-selling author of the Series Safford Swords. She is also founder of My India My Glory.
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