Annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra begins in Puri, Odisha

The annual Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra, largest-ever religious congregation in Odisha has begun at Puri district on 18 July 2015.

This edition of yatra is the Millennium’s first Nabakalebar Rath Yatra meaning all the Lords of Puri Jagannath Temple will get new avatar after nineteen years. Thus, Nabakalebara marks the re-embodiment of deities.

The Rath Yatra (Chariot Festival) is 9 day-long event I which congregation of more than 50 lakh devotees from across India and abroad come together. It is celebrated annually to mark the annual visit of Deities Lord Jagannath, brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra who are taken in their respective chariots.

These deities will be brought out of the temple and will be taken by chariot to Gundicha temple which is place of their aunt’s house and indicates the feminine creative aspect of divinity. They will stay in the Gundicha temple for a week and then return.

During this traditional procession, the chariots carrying these deities will be pulled by thousands of devotees.

While in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Rathyatra of Lord Jagannath began from the 400-year-old Jagannath temple in Jamalpur area. The tradtional ‘Pahind-rituals’ i.e. the symbolic path cleaning on chariot of Lord Jagannath at temple was performed by Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.


Elephant population rises in Odisha: 2015 Census

The population of elephants has increased to 1,954 in Odisha as per revealed in 2015 Elephant Census report.

The population of elephants in state has marginally increased by 24 elephants in the terns of population in 2015 compared to 2012 Elephant Census.

As per 2015 Elephant Census

  • 1450 elephants were enumerated in three elephant reserves viz. Mayurbhanj, Mahanadi and Sambalpur.
  • These 3 elephant reserve accounted for 74.21 per cent of the total elephant population of the state.
  • Remaining 402 elephants were found outside these elephant reserves and sanctuaries.
  • Composition: 1,096 elephants were identified as cow elephants and 341 elephants were identified as tuskers. Around 490 elephants among them aged below 5 years.
  • Man animal conflict: in some areas due to enormous anthropogenic pressure and urban infrastructure development has resulted in decline in population.
  • Deaths: 13 elephants had died from 2012 to May 2015. 49 elephants had died due to disease. While, 20 had died due to poaching and 5 were poisoned.
  • 14 elephants were deliberately and 9 were accidentally electrocuted. 13 elephants died after they were hit by speeding trains and vehicles.

The census which was carried out in 44 forest divisions has shown a positive growth in 26 divisions and a negative growth in 14 divisions.


Astra missile successfully test-fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI in Odisha

Indigenously-developed beyond visual range air-to-air Astra missile was successfully test fired at the Integrated Test Range, Chandipur, Odisha.

In the test, the missile was fired from Sukhoi -30 MKI fighter jet in two developmental trials to prove its long range capability.

In the first trial, the missile was released when the fighter jet was performing a very high-g manoeuvre and in the second trial it was fired when the manoeuvre was higher than in the first exercise.

These tests were the part of seven developmental trials of the missile. After few more tests, including pre-induction trials the missile is expected to be inducted by 2016.

Facts about Astra missile

  • Indigenously developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and one of the smallest weapon systems developed by it.
  • Single stage solid fuelled and has payload capacity of 15 kg conventional explosives.
  • It is air-to-air beyond-visual-range (BVR) all-weather missile that can be launched from different altitudes.
  • Capable of engaging and destroying highly maneuverable supersonic aerial targets and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speed of 1.2 Mach to 1.4 Mach.
  • It should be noted that it is radar homing missile
  • It can engage targets in head-on up to 80 km and tail-chase up to 20 km modes and can reach up to 110 km when fired from an altitude of 15 km and 44 km when launched from an altitude of 8 km and 21 km when fired from sea level.
  • The missile can be integrated with fighter aircraft including Sukhoi-30 MKI, Mirage-2000, MiG-29, Jaguar and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).