Mythology revisited: Lakhs to attend Sita-Ram marriage at Agra
Around a million people are set to descend on this historic city over the next three days beginning Saturday to witness the divine marriage of goddess Sita and Shri Ram with the the city's oldest colony Vijay Nagar being opulently decorated as mythological Janakpuri.
The Janak palace has been modeled after Belur Math in West Bengal, while three other mammoth structures mimick historical buildings of the country.
"it is a massive event... we have made elaborate security arrangements. The first day when 'Ram Barat' procession is taken out, we will have more than a thousand officials and cops posted all along the 8km route. We expect over a lakh along this route on the first day. Special security arrangements are in place in areas along this route," said Superintendent of Police, city, Prashant Verma.
Fire brigade and ambulance vehicles are deployed at vantage points and police posts at Ring Road and Sultan Ganj have been provided additional forces.
The 'Ram Barat' will reach 'Janakpuri' early on Saturday with full fanfare -- with dozens of brass bands, orchestras, camels, horses and grand regalia of sorts.
The Agra Ram Lila Barat is the grandest in north India; it began way back in 1880. Over a million people from neighbouring districts come to watch the proceedings spread over three days. For the convenience of outsiders, cinema halls run extra shows at night.
"For the past one week massive maintenance work has been going on in different parts to enable lakhs of people from all over to visit Janakpuri and pay obeisance to the Hindu god Ram and his consort Sita," said Sudhier Gupta, a resident of Vijay Nagar.
The Ram Barat draws lakhs of villagers who crowd up the roadside, balconies, rooftops, as the mile-long wedding procession headed by 15 brass bands and 100 odd jhankis (tableaux) showing myriad Hindu gods and goddesses in all their splendour, plus scenes with social messages, meanders through the 'kingdom' of King Janak.
Sri Ram Lila Committee general secretary Sri Bhagwan Agarwal said this year there will be 125 jhankis and 14 bands. Road shows depicting 'Braj ki Holi', Shiv-Parvati, Radha-Krishna and 'dandia' plus 'bhangra' dances will be the new attrctions.
The 'barat' starts from the Mankameshwar temple near the Ram Lila ground close to the Agra Fort, projected as the kingdom of Awadh, to the so-called Janakpuri, capital of Raja Janak, father of goddess Sita, covering around 10km and consuming a whole night.
One of the organisers told IANS that this year's Janakpuri has broken all records in scale and magnitude. "The funds for 'Ram Baraat' are raised by locals. Corporate houses often make generous contributions. The municipal corporation ensures that the street lights, roads and other facilities used for the 'barat' are in good shape," said an organizer.
Each year 'Janakpuri' is built in a new locality which receives generous funds from the Nagar Nigam for development of roads and streamlining of civic amenities in the area. - IANS