The rath yatra in Richmond, Virginia dates back to 1998, when there were only three to four Odia families residing. Under the initiative of late Bijan Rao, a Telugu from Odisha, the community used to celebrate the festival in a small way.
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. Last year, a Hindu temple was built here and the Odia community instituted the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra that were brought from Bhubaneswar. So, a chariot was built last year and that marked the first grand rath yatra for the whole of Virginia.
Last month, the techie devotees started building the chariot, using wooden frames and columns to make a wide chassis that will roll over on wheels made of wood and rubber tyres.
The amateur chariot builders are using bright enamel paints. They have also kept in mind the major colours used in the three chariots of the deities in Puri and plan to use them in plenty on their rath.