Why ratha yatra is a celebration of caste and religious exclusion

Categories Opinion

Woke up to quite a few wishes of happy ratha jatra. I did not even know it was today. Was never a big fan of the god or the ritual. The jatra, specifically, is a terrible reiteration of caste and religious exclusivity that the temple stands for today.

I don’t know much about the temple or the rituals as I was never interested. But top of my mind, here are a few things that is wrong with the whole institution:

1. The King is a sweeper – Oh my god, see a king has a broom in his hand. What can be more democratizing than this sight? A commoner? The rath yatra can’t proceed unless the king has done his duties.

This is the ritualistic bond that ties king and god. Outside of Europe, this is the longest standing bond of power.

2. The irony of Salabega – Son of a Muslim, he was a big devotee of the Lord. Once he wanted to come and see the Rath Yatra but fell ill on the way. He prayed, the rath did not budge until he reached and he went on to write devotional poems.

Why was he so desperate? Because the only time he could see the lord was the yatra. Muslims and dalits are not allowed inside the temple. The Lord accepted the Muslim, stopped and honoured his devotion. That’s not enough for the mafia that runs the temple.

“Only Orthodox Hindus are allowed,” a signboard hanging from the Lion’s Gate of Sri Jagannath Temple.

So, the god the goons who run the temple do a favour by running a charity and PR trail once a year. That is rath yatra and I do not like it one bit. Once you read about other rituals, you will see how bigoted the festival is.