Manipur Observes Kang (Rath Yatra) – Religious Procession Of Lord Jagannath 

 

  • NET Web Desk

The northeastern state of Manipur – home to the Meitei Community is acknowledged as one of the significant centres of Vaishnavism, contributing its notable share into the history of Hindu Culture. Vaishnavism characterized by devotion to the Lord Vishnu and his incarnations (avatars) took its root during the reign of Kyamba – a 15th century Meitei King. Generally speaking, cross-links between two religious forces – Hinduism and that of Meiteis, led to the emergence of Vaishnavism in the northeastern state.

Similarly, the northeastern state alongwith other Vaishnavism centres is observing its biggest festivals, observed by the Meitei community.

The origin and theme of the celebration have been adapted from the ‘Rath-Yatra’ festival in Orissa’s Puri. It celebrates the journey of Lord Jagannath, his sister Subhadra and the brother Balabhadra.

Let’s back into the intriguing account behind the foundation of this event in Manipur.

The foundation of Lord Jagannath’s worship was laid for the first time in Manipur during the reign of Meidingu Charairongba (1697-1709 AD), when a Brahmin from Odisha settled at Brahmapur locality.

The descendants of the Brahmin got royal patronage to observe Rath-Yatra.

However, the celebration for Rath-Yatra originally commenced at the royal palace for the first time in 1780 during the reign of Maharaja Bhagyachandra, after he installed Shree Bijoy Govindaji temple.

Rath-Yatra was first celebrated as a public festival at Manipur in 1832, under the reign of Maharaja Gambhir Singh, following the construction of the Govindaji temple – the festival’s central landmark.

On the day of Kang, the idols of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are taken out from the Govindaji temple; and placed on the ornately decorated Rath/Kang (chariot) in preparation for the ceremonial procession known as ‘Kang Chingba’.

The procession is performed with pulling the chariot by devotees of Lord Jagannath, while devotional songs are offered by Sankirtana artists.

This festival celebrated with immense gaiety plays a crucial role in promoting the cultural legacy of Manipur – a significant centre of Vaishnavism faith.

Taking to Twitter, the Manipur Chief Minister – N. Biren Singh also offered prayers to Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra & Subhadra on this auspicious occasion of Kang / Rath Yatra. “Offered prayers to Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra & Subhadra on this auspicious occasion of Kang / Rath Yatra. This festival has always been a special one as all of us come together to seek the blessings of Lord Jagannath, especially during the procession of ‘Kang Chingba.'” – he wrote.

“People from all walks of life, irrespective of caste, colour and gender turn up to participate in the procession of Kang Chingba with the belief that holding the ropes and pulling the chariot, carrying the deities will was away all sorrows of life. Flowers, fruits and sweets are offered by devotees to the lords during procession to different localities.” – reads an official statement issued by the Manipur CM.

“I join the people of Manipur in the celebration of Kang and pray to Lord Jagannath to shower the State with joy, prosperity and peaceful co-existence among all communities.” – the statement further added.