Ratha Yatra Worldwide

July 21, 2007 at 11:29 am Leave a comment

08001487.jpg Hare Krishna followers brought the annual Ratha Yatra event to Liverpool last Saturday. Devotees believe they receive spiritual benefit by pulling the chariot of Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe. [Photo: Elliott Housego and Angelo Velardo]

Jul 19, PURI, ORISSA (THU) — More Ratha Yatra stories from around the world.

‘Time for Chariots’ by Ilona Marchetta, Liverpool, UK Champion:

Hare Krishna spiritual leader Govardhan Das brought the movement to Liverpool 10 years ago to save south-west Sydney members the trek to the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple in North Sydney.

Back then, Govardhan, which was the name given to him by a guru who initiated him as a leader in 1979 in Fiji, had fewer than a dozen devotees to preach to. These days a congregation of about 100 meets once a month at the Whitlam Leisure Centre to pray and share a meal traditionally prepared by the leader’s family. Last Saturday, ISKCON held the Ratha Yatra, or Festival of the Chariots, in Liverpool for the first time.

Govardhan, 66, said the group felt that the time was right to ”enlighten” the south-west about the Krishna movement. Last year their Ratha Yatra float took first prize in Campbelltown’s Fisher’s Ghost festival.

”If everybody became a Hare Krishna I don’t think there would be any problem in the world,” Govardhan said, listing gambling, intoxication, extra-marital sex and meat as things followers are expected to give up.

”Although we may look different, the soul within is part and parcel of the same. ”This country doesn’t belong to us: we have no material identification; we have a spiritual identity. This body is just a vehicle to do your daily chores in life.”

His daughter, Radha Shalini, 30, said the belief that Hare Krishna followers did nothing but wear bright orange clothes and dance in the streets was wrong.

”Hare Krishna is about singing, dancing and having good food,” she said. ”It’s not a cult; these are very qualified people. There are accountants, lawyers, doctors, people with PhDs who are devotees.”

ISKCON members meet at the Whitlam Leisure Centre on the last Sunday of the month, 5pm-7.30pm.

‘They Lend it a Touch of Vibrancy’ by Satyasundar Barik, The Hindu

Several foreign nationals, mostly members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), were present outside the Jagannath temple to get a glimpse of the deities. 

The name Bhakta Charles sounds very unusual. But this French national loves to be called by this name only. Each time he greeted another devotee during the Rath Yatra celebration in the pilgrim town on Monday, Charles uttered only two words — Radhe Shyam.

“I have been a regular visitor to Rath Yatra here since 1991. I had missed only one year. I cannot explain what has been my gain over the years by visiting the car festivals but am driven by an invisible force,” Charles said.

The French national was the centre of attraction just outside the 12th century Sri Jagannath Mandir here as deities were brought out in colourful processions. He hung a structure having idols of Lord Balabhadra, Lord Jagannath and Devi Subhadra.

“In my past life I was perhaps an Indian. The Lord brought back me here. You can forget the Lord but the Lord will never forget you,” he said.

Similarly, a British national, was happy standing among the lakhs of devotees who thronged the city.

Several foreign nationals, mostly members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), were present outside the temple to get a glimpse of the deities, who come out from the main temple once in a year to give darshan to people of all religions and castes. Presence of these foreigners among crowd had made the atmosphere vibrant.

‘Little priests’

While these foreigners drew most of the attention in the crowd, ‘little priests’ between the age of 4 years and 15 years gesturing to devotees from three chariots also attracted the devotees.

Six-year-old Binod Das Mohapatra, who was deployed by his grandfather on chariot of Devi Subhadra, said, “I am not familiar with all Yatra rituals. But next year, I will have a fair idea about the festival.”

This is the occasion when baton of responsibility from older generation is passed on to new generation. “These kids will know the importance of the festival and get to see lakhs of followers of Lord Jagannath. Though they have learnt the method of worshipping from home they will understand how significant their role is to guide devotees,” said Dinabandhu Mekap, a 61-year old priest.

Hundreds of devotees danced in ecstasy and performed traditional martial art to welcome deities on ‘Grand Road’. The day became brighter as it progressed and brought relief for lakhs of devotees who were apprehending heavy rain.

West Bengal Celebrates Chariot Festival by Sify correspondent, Kolkata:

Rath yatra, the annual chariot festival, was celebrated across West Bengal on Monday as thousands of people came out to the streets with their chariots to worship Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram and Devi Subhadra.

The occasion was specially celebrated at ISKCON temple in Mayapur under the Nadia district, Mahesh near Srirampur in Hooghly and also in Kolkata by ISKCON.

According to mythology, Lord Jagannath on his way to Snan Yatra (holy dip) in Puri had rested on the banks of river Ganges in Mahesh. Since then it acquired the status of a holy place.

“It’s the third biggest chariot of Lord Jagannath in India and its religious importance is just after Puri’s chariot. This year the Rath yatra, of Mahesh stepped into 611th year. Every year thousands of devotees come to see Lord Jagannath at Mahesh,” said a priest of Mahesh Temple in Srirampur.

Thousands of pilgrims flock to Mahesh for their holy dip. Mahesh acquired its importance when Drubananda Brahmachari started the Snan Yatra about 500 years ago.

According to stories, Brahmachari had gone to the Jagannath temple of Puri, but the sevaks (servants) did not allow him to make any offerings.

Anguished, he went without food and almost killed himself but it is said that in his dream the Lord directed him to Mahesh. Drubananda Brahmachari went to Mahesh and started the festival there.

In Mayapur, the Rath yatra festival was also celebrated in a big way by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

Devotees of Krishna and Chaitanya from all over the world visit Mayapur to participate in the festivities of Rath yatra.

“I was too eager to experience the colour of this religious festival in India. And coming to Mayapur I have seen the actual Rath yatra that I wished to,” said Luftar Shekh, a devotee from abroad.

Traditionally, on Rath yatra day all Bengalis – especially who worship Goddess Durga – observe this day with fervour.

Jagannath Ratha Yatra in Patna from Patna Daily

Members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Patna on Monday took out a gigantic Jagannath rath yatra as hundreds of thousands of onlookers stood by the side of the road to witness the show featuring 40′ tall chariots carrying huge statues of Lord Jagannath, Sri Baldeo, and Devi Subhadra, pulled by elephants and camels.

Despite heavy rain, the devotees danced and sang religious hymns in front of the chariot spreading the message of love and peace on the planet earth.

People everywhere welcomed the procession by sprinkling flowers at the rally while also accepting the ‘prasad’ from the organizers.

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Urban Development Minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey flagged off the procession and prayed for peace and love everywhere.

Mahavishnu Swamiji Maharaj of London led the hymn team and ISKCON Patna president Krishnakripa Das Maharaj explained the origin and importance of Jagannath rath yatra.

Hindus, Muslims Pull Chariot Together In Orissa, from the Mangalorean, Bhubaneswar:

There are no religious barriers between Hindu and Muslim residents in Orissa’s port town of Paradeep, where members of both communities came together to celebrate the famous Rath Yatra (chariot festival). In Paradeep, about 70 km from here, Hindus and Muslims joined hands Monday to pull the chariots of the Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra.

“This communal harmony comes at a time when good news and goodwill have both become rare commodities and violence, hatred and indifference to the dignity of human life have made people cynical,” said religion researcher Prasanta Kumar Padhi.

Since time immemorial, this practice has been followed in the tiny village of Deulisahi, on the outskirts of Paradeep. Out of about 2,500 residents of the village, nearly 800 are Muslims. “Both Hindus and Muslims are active members of the Ratha Yatra committee. The Muslim members cleaned the village road for the smooth arrival of the chariots and they also dragged the sacred ropes of the chariots from the Jagannath temple,” 43-year-old Mustaq Khan, a villager, told IANS.

Hindus in the village also participate in festivals observed by Muslims. “Since time immemorial, both the communities have been living peacefully in this village. As per Hindu traditions, Muslims are not entitled to enter temples. Bu here we allow the entry of any person irrespective of caste, creed and religion,” said Damodar Panda, the chief priest of the Praraeep Jagannath temple.

Lord Jagannath reaches Gundicha Temple, from Kalinga Times, Puri:

Riding his Nandighosh chariot Lord Jagannath reached the Gundicha temple on Tuesday. Thousands of devotees pulled the chariot to make it reach its destination.

The pulling of Nandighosh was suspended on Monday following bad light and rains and Lord Jagannath had to wait midway near the Marichikot square along the Grand Road.

The chariots of Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra had been pulled up to the Gundicha temple on Monday evening. Pulling of Nandighosh was resumed by 9.30 am on Tuesday and the devotees pulled it amid chanting of Jai Jagannath along the route. The chariot reached Gundicha temple by 11.15 am.

A large number of policemen joined the devotees in pulling the Nandighosh.

Hundreds of newly wed couples were seen pulling the chariots seeking blessings of the Lord for happy union all through the life.

The deities would remain on their respective chariots in the night. They would be escorted into the sanctum sanctorum of the Gundicha temple on Wednesday afternoon.

The return journey of the deities – Bahuda Yatra – will be held on July 24 when the chariots will be pulled back up to the main temple.

Meanwhile, police rounded up at least 15 miscreants on the charges of pick-pocketing and chain snatching, while five inter state criminals were also arrested from the pilgrim crowd.

The accused persons were produced before the Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate who remanded them to jail custody.


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