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Mayapur, Nabadwip to be developed as tourism destinations: Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee said that her government has taken up various initiatives to develop Mayapur and Nabadwip as popular tourist destinations.

Statesman News Service | Kolkata |

Flagging off the 48th Kolkata ISKCON Rath Yatra here in the city, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said that her government has taken up various initiatives to develop Mayapur and Nabadwip as popular tourist destinations. Hailing Lord Jagannath as the god of the universe, the chief minister expressed hope that humanity will triumph over narrow religious sentiments before she inaugurated the chariot festival by pulling the ropes at Minto Park.

“Apart from here, I will be visiting the Mahesh Rath Yatra this year. We will develop both Mayapur and Nabadwip as tourist destinations with all modern facilities. A pilgrimage centre known as ISKCON Town will be coming up soon on a 700-acre land adjoining the newly-built temple at Mayapur,” Miss Banerjee said. She also chanted Jagannath mantra and “Jai Jagannath” (Victory to Lord Jagannath) which the devotees echoed. Urging people to embrace peace and unity, the chief minister wished everyone well on the occasion, ending her address with “Jai Hind” and “Jai Bangla”.

Actor turned newly-elected MP from Bashirhat, Nusrat Jahan, who was a special guest for the occasion along with her husband Nikhil Jain, said,”Bengal is a land of communal harmony where people of all religions participate in each other’s festivals without any constraints.’’ Calling herself blessed for the opportunity to be a part of the event, she also emphasized that young India stands for secularism and humanity. Actor Soham Chakraborty was also present at the ceremony.

Amid the chanting of mantras and cheering of the crowd, the devotees pulled the chariots carrying deities of Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra. As the chariots moved along the streets of the city, hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the sides of the roads. Devotees danced to devotional music while many onlookers chanted the name of the god and bowed down before the chariot. The procession crossed major thoroughfares of the city amid tight security arrangements by the city police. The procession ended at Brigade Parade ground where the chariots will stay till the return journey of the deities to the temple, known as ‘Ulto Ratha’. A week-long fair has been organised for the occasion.

BJP takes part in Rath Yatra celebration:

Buoyed by its success in the Lok Sabha elections, the state BJP took part in Rath Yatra observations in a big way and in many places shouted “Jai Shri Ram” prompting police to disperse them. The BJP has protested “police high handedness”. Several BJP leaders participated in the Rath Yatra in various places in the city and outskirts today. BJP leader Mukul Roy, BJP’s co-observer Arvind Menon, party’s national secretary Rahul Sinha, general secretaries Sayanta Basu, Pratap Banerjee and Raju Banerjee joined the Rath Yatra in several areas.

BJP state committee member Bhaskar Bhattacharya said: “Our supporters shouted Jai Shri Ram which is not illegal under Indian constitution. Neither is it derogatory. But police took steps to stop them chanting Jai Shri Ram”. BJP’s co-observer Arvind Menon greeted people on the occasion and prayed for the well-being of one and all. But he severely criticised police high-handedness against BJP activists shouting “Jai Shri Ram” slogans. Meanwhile, education minister Partha Chatterjee criticised the BJP’s attempt to politicise the festival.

“Those (BJP) who think that they have conquered Bengal by pulling the chariots in the courtyards of their homes are living in a fool’s paradise. Is there a shortage of chariots in Delhi that they have to come to Kolkata?” mocked Mr Chatterjee.

More funds for Mahesh Jagannath temple:

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today inaugurated the Rath Yatra festival at Mahesh in Serampore and announced the allotment of more funds towards developing a tourist spot at Mahesh Jagannath temple and its surroundings. Miss Banerjee said the Mahesh Jagannath temple and the Rath Yatra there hold a unique status after the Puri Jaganath temple and the Rath Yatra associated with it. Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and other contemporary saints have taken part in Rath Yatra of the Mahesh Jagannath temple.

“The Mahesh Jagannath temple and the Rath Yatra still holds fast the rich traditional and cultural heritage of Bengal, It sends out the message of communal harmony, brotherhood and service to mankind as service to God,” she said. The chief minister added that a sum of Rs 10 crores has already been allotted for the development and beautification of Mahesh Jagannath temple. “I want to develop the entire area into a tourist spot, so that people from other states and abroad also comes to know about the divinity of the place and the rich heritage, culture and tradition associated with it for more than six centuries. Another 15 crores will be sanctioned soon not only to beautify the entire temple complex but to set up every possible amenities for the tourists who will flock in thousands after the completion of the project work,” she said.