Sri Jagannath Rath Yatra 2018
History of Rath Yatra:
Ratha Yatra, the Festival of Chariots, is celebrated originally in Jagannath Puri (Odisha) from time immemorial. In Puri, Lord Jagannath is worshipped with his elder brother Bala-Rama and his sister Subhadra. Each sibling has his / her own chariot and goes to the summer residence with great pomp. Each of the chariots is covered in distinctly coloured cloth. Various symbols and signs help pilgrims distinguish between the three gods. As a mark of respect, and humbleness, the king of Puri sweeps the chariots of the Gods of Puri. Festival begins with a huge fanfare of conches, trumpets, drums and cymbals. Accompanied by music and dancers, the divine travellers begin their journey to the garden temple. The Rath Yatra in Puri is a 9-days festival where the three idols visit Gundicha (their aunt) and then return back. The huge chariots are well-decorated with flowers and are adorned every year.
The festival of Ratha-yatra represents Lord Jagannatha’s longing to reunite with His dear devotees in Vrindavana, foremost among them, Srimati Radharani. According to tradition, the Lord gets lovesick once a year just prior to the festival. To cheer him up, His servants arrange for Him to go on a lavish procession to meet up with His devotees. Lord Jagannatha rides on a grand, three-story-high chariot, accompanied by thousands of onlookers and marching bands with scores of drummers, singers, and dancers. India’s colonial British rulers coined the term “juggernaut” from the large, heavy chariot used to celebrate this festival in the city of Jagannatha Puri.
Srila Prabhupada’s Rath Yatra:
The first Rath yatra outside India was initiated by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (founder of ISKCON) on July 9, 1967 in San Francisco. The Lord of the Universe (Lord Jagannath) now parade in major cities all over the world such as London, Paris, New York, Durban, Rome, etc. Srila Prabhupada said, “Therefore if you participate in these car festivals, as it is stated in the scriptures, rathe ca vamanam drstva punar janma na vidyate… If you kindly see these Jagannatha deities riding on these cars and in procession, and as Caitanya Mahaprabhu chanted the Hare Krsna mantra in front of this car, then according to our Vedic scripture, in your next life you’ll go to back, back to home, back to Godhead.”
1) Jagannatha’s rath is marked with a Cakra and Garuda, is yellow in color, with four white horses. The protecting deity is Nrsimha.
Baladeva’s cart is blue, with a palm tree insignia, and four black horses. The protecting deity is Sesa. Subhadra’s cart is black, with lotus insignia, protected by Vanadurga.
2) Ratha-yatra signifies the Lord’s love for His devotees. He personally comes to visit His devotees and the public who welcome Him in the streets. Befitting the sentiment of its origins, Ratha-yatras in the Hare Krishna movement also serve as reunions for devotees who come from far and wide to participate, meeting up with old friends around their common goal of serving Lord Jagannatha, Sri Krishna.
3) The Narada Purana (uttara kanda 52.12) reveals the conversation between Lord Narayana and Lakshmidevi about Purushottama kshetra (Jagannatha Puri),
pratimam tatra tam drstva svayam devena nirmitam
anayasena vai yanti bhavanam me tato narau
“A person who sees the Deities there built by the Lord Himself will easily find the path to reach My abode.” Anyone seeing the Deities of Lord Krshna, Balarama and Subhadra at Jagannatha Puri during their leisure outage of Rathayatra means buying a ticket to reach the Supreme Abode of Vaikuntha, the eternal world of no worries. The Lord promises that His devotees who take all pains to gather at Puri during the Rathayatra will be rid off their miseries and may reach the eternal abode of Goloka Vrindavana and enjoy their life in association with Lord Krishna, Radharani and their close accomplices.
4) Rathe ca vamanam drstva punar janma na vidyate.
“Simply by seeing the Lord on the chariot, one makes advancement for stopping the repetition of birth and death.”
ALL ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO JOIN THE CELEBRATION ON 25th AUG 2.00 pm – 9.00 pm