It was a sea of humanity at the Nanjangud car festival or the Dodda Jatra Mahotsava at the abode of Lord Srikanteshwara in Nanjangud on Monday. The Pancha Maha Rathotsava was witnessed by lakhs of people that included young, youth and the old who made a beeline to the temple town which is popular as ‘Dakshina Kashi’.
The annual Rathotsava is unique to South India where deities Srikanteshwara, Parvathi or Ammanavaru, Ganapathi, Subramanya and Chandikeshwara are taken out in a procession.
The puja rituals for the presiding deities commenced in the auspicious Meena Lagna from 6:08 am to 6:14 am with groups of priests performing pujas and chanting Vedic hymns. The priests were led by the chief priest of Srikanteshwara Temple Nagachandra Dixit.
People started pouring into the town since Sunday morning and they pulled the chariots once the priests performed special pujas.
As per traditions, the chariot of Ganapathy was taken out as the pilot followed by the Gautama Ratha – 95-foot tall and weighing 80 tonne – carrying the deity of Lord Srikanteshwara. They were followed by chariots of Ammanavaru, Subramanya and Chandikeshwara.
Thousands of devotees, who had come a day earlier to be a part of the historic moment, pulled the chariots with the help of two ropes tied to them chanting ‘Jai Shrikanta’, ‘Jai Nanjunda’ ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’.
As the chariots were being pulled, devotees who had gathered on both the sided of the main road showered flowers, fruits and the traditional “jawna”. The chariots started their journey from the temple complex and proceeded towards Rashtrapathi Road, Patshala Road, Rakshasa Mantapa Road, Angadi Road and returned to the temple after covering a distance of 1.5 kilometres.
The Pancha Maha Rathotsava this year was a smooth affair as last year the ropes tied to the Gautama Chariot snapped and the chariot was stranded for almost one-and-a-half hours.
The district administration had made elaborate arrangements including ambulances, first aid units, fire brigade and crane services. District police led by Superintendent of Police Abhinav Khare had made elaborate security arrangements.
All the five chariots proceeded on the middle of the road in a single line and precautions were taken to prevent the giant wheels from veering to the sides. Also, barricades were set up around the wheels to prevent people from going near them.
KSRTC had arranged special bus services from Mysuru, Mandya, Chamarajanagar and Kollegal facilitating the devotees to witness the grand affair.
Many organisations had arranged drinking water and buttermilk kiosks along the procession routes to quench the thirst of devotees. Srikanteshwara Bhakta Mandali had arranged free meals to thousands of devotees since Sunday night. Nagendra, a devotee from Bengaluru distributed 30,000 “antina unde” a sweet dish to the devotees.