Social Media Bridges Gap during Rath Yatra



The Deities were so far, yet looked so near. Thanks to technological innovation, devotees resorted to live streaming of the car festival on social networking sites, bridging the gap between them and their near and dear in far off places.

Even though a host of television channels shot the mega event, it was social media that helped disseminate real time updates fast. "My relatives staying in New Jersey requested me to beam the festival live on Facebook. Staying miles away, they were happy to watch the chariots and Deities within seconds," said Sidharth Chauhan, a devotee from Gangtok.

A few foreign devotees were also seen filming the car festival and posting on social networking sites. "We came here for research work on Jagannath culture. We will upload the clips on our website for Rath Yatra's promotion," said Andreas Philipp, a German tourist.

Not only devotees, but a number of tech-savvy priests too were busy making the best use of technology. "My guests were supposed to come from Kolkata, but they could not. To make them abreast, I went live on Facebook when the Deities were being escorted from temple onto the chariots in Pahandi procession. They also video-called me and watched the entire procession," said Shyamsundar Mohapatra.

Ratha Yatra Procession 
[ Photo: Sampradaya Sun ]

India-Japan Friendship Centre (IJFC), a voluntary outfit working on promotion of tourism in Odisha, organised Rath Yatra at Osaka and immediately posted live videos on social networking sites and web portals. "We had been organising Rath Yatra for foreigners in Puri since 2011. This year, we conducted it in Japan," said IJFC president Srimanta Kumar Dash.

As people and priests were busy in the tech-connect, temple administration warned some of them for trying to film the Deities by either standing close to Lion's Gate (entrance of Jagannath temple) or from chariots. "Taking photographs of the Deities is not prohibited outside. But we objected to the way some people clicked photos by standing close to the Lion's Gate. I also saw some priests shooting the Pahandi procession from chariots. We immediately stopped them from doing so by making announcements on public address systems," temple's Public Relations Officer Laxmidhar Pujapanda said.