Ratha Yatra is any procession that includes a chariot, accompanied by the public. One of the largest Ratha Yatras is the Jagannath Puri Ratha Yatra in Puri, Odisha, where three richly decorated large-scale chariots, sail through the streets of the city.
The Ratha, meaning chariots are designed with specific wood, and each can weigh up to a ton. And with such a large gathering of people, the procession has often seen accidents.
Aswini Mishra, an engineer from Brajrajnagar, Odisha, used his skills to develop brakes for the majestic chariots back in 2006, to make the chariots safe.
After reading about a tragic death of a devotee, Mishra came up with a brake system that can stop the contraption in case of any incidence, which also contributes to its ease of use. He showcased his brake system to the Sri Jagannath Temple Administration, which accepted his innovation with open arms.
The brake system implemented 12 years ago is still in use in the Ratha Yatras, saving numerous lives.
The brake system that was earlier in place consisted of a wooden log which sits in front of the wheels of the Ratha. Applying the brakes means to pull a lever where the log would stop the wheels in motion.
This was found to be very ineffective as the brakes when applied, would only stop the vehicle, meters apart. Mishra, who works with the Lajkura Open Cast Project at Mahanadi Coalfields Limited. He roped in three of his workers to develop a much more efficient brake system for the Ratha.
For this, the team experimented with various materials from rubber straps to wooden, and steel nails, reports JSGlive.in.
And finally, after a few years of experimenting, they were successful with large head nails and thicker rubber sheets which managed to stop the chariot more efficiently.
“We have been trying all innovative ways to make the chariot stop comfortably,” Mishra told JSG live. He continued, “We got the inspiration from the football footwear studs and had stroked the nails in that pattern, and it proved to hold the wooden log in the same place when applied, and till now we have been preparing it for Lord Jagannath.”
The brake system is designed to use for all future Ratha Yatras and Mishra who funded the project, believes this cost-effective method would be helpful for many processions.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)