Hindu Temple hosts festival

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By Mark Ambrogi

A taste of India culture will be on display June 25 at the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana.

The Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra, which translated to Chariot Festival of Lord Jagannath, is set to start at 10 a.m. at the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana, 3350 N. German Church Rd., Indianapolis.

“It’s the biggest temple in Indiana,” said Smita Patnaik, a Carmel resident who added she is one of many Carmel residents who attend that temple.

Lord Jagannath is a deity worshipped by Hindu.

The Jagannath Association of Indiana and Hindu Temple of Central Indiana host the event, Patnaik said.

The festival originated in Puri in approximately the 12th century.

“Once a year Jagannath comes out and goes on this once-a year trip to his aunt’s place, which is another temple in India,” Patnaik said. “He gives everyone a chance to meet the god. We take the god and we carry him on a chariot. It’s completely open to anyone who wants to do it. We pull the chariot. He stays there nine days and for these days, we make customary treats and food, pancakes and all traditional sweets.”

Two other deities, Jaggannath’s older bother Balabhadra and younger sister Subhadra, are pulled on chariots as well.

“All the ladies carry Subhadra,” Patnaik said.

There will be then be a buffet available for a small fee, followed by a cultural program featuring traditional folk music and classical Indiana dances. There is no admission fee and it is open to the public.

“At the cultural event we have a number of traditional dances,” Patnaik said. “We have a lot of people doing it. It’s a pretty organized cultural program, about an hour-and-a-half to a couple of hours.”

Jagannath’s stay will actually be shorter as the return is set for 10 a.m. July 2 at the Hindu Temple of Central Indiana.

“It’s pretty similar to the June 25 event, we return the god to his temple and there is food to eat,” Patnaik said.

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