Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ISKCON Jagannath Rath Yathra in Chennai

I was there last Monday on January the 13'th and it was indeed an experience participating in my first ever Jagannath Rath Yathra.

For the folks at ISKCON who have been conducting the rath yathra for several years it was yet another event, efficiently handled. They had conveniently picked a day when the traffic on the roads was dull, the next day being the holiday for Pongal. There were traffic jams but these were resolved efficiently with the help of the Traffic Police and the regular cops who were assigned duty that day. On two occasions I did watch the devotes cutting branches of trees that were obtrusive to the rath's "Gopuram" and was also wondering if that was ethical or right. Even as per ISKCON's beliefs isn't God present in the tree too.  Even a simple gesture of worshipping the tree before cutting its branches or saying some "shlokas" would have made a big difference to me.

I have to admit, the enthusiasm of the devotees was something that deserved to be mentioned, several of them, singing and dancing (sometimes frenzied) throughout the 4 hour journey of the "rath" and these include ladies and small children. Not to forget devotees and volunteers controlling the pulling of the "rath" and managing traffic, singing, chanting and distributing "Prasad" to passers by and people on the roads, in autos, buses and cars. And talking of "Prasad" which was copiously overflowing not only during the rath's journey but at the halls of the destination (Kuchalambal Kalyana Mandapam, Chetpet) also makes me believe that all this is possible only with the hand of God. The expenditure must have been staggering.

Enroute I was even wondering what if there was some emergency as rushing someone in a critical state to the hospital, wouldn't the procession be a hindrance? Fortunately I did not witness any such untoward incidents for the two hours I spent on the journey. And when I am wondering if such "Rath Yathras" are necessary I am only reminded of Swami Vivekananda's message on charity when he said that the greatest gift that one can give away in charity is the dissemination of spiritual knowledge. Srila Prabupada, the founder of ISKCON also advocates the same.

1 comment:

mahesh said...

Juggernaut :)