Lord Jagannath Comes to Town

Rath Yatra 2012The temple celebrated its 32nd Lord Jagannath Rath Yatra on 8 January 2012.The festival this year was different. Devotees at ISKCON Juhu got their much awaited dream come true by receiving their own set of Jagannath Deities and so Lord Jagannath along with His brother Lord Baladev and sister Subhadra Devi rode on what was Their maiden Rath Yatra. Earlier the temple would receive the Deities from ISKCON Mira Road for this annual festival.

The Rath Yatra was also distinct as the first two days of the three day festival were held in the temple courtyard unlike the previous years when the whole festival was celebrated outside in a pandal.

The festivities started on 6 January when Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra took centre-stage in the temple courtyard and sat in Their flower bedecked altar giving darshan to all. They looked resplendent and captivated the gathered. It was difficult to take ones eyes off them and many stood just staring! The congregation devotees lovingly engaged in personal service of Their Lordships by offering Them Chappan bhoga (an offering of numerous food stuffs). 

There were special aratis and lectures by senior vaishnavas narrating the pastimes of Lord Jagannath. Melodious kirtan played by the devotees added to the whole ambience. Another highlight of the festival was participation of some senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada who had come from across the world. Some of them have been associated with the Rath Yatra festival of ISKCON from the time it was initiated by Srila Prabhupada in Western countries. They regaled the audience with their experiences of the Rath Yatra over the years in relation to Lord Jagannath. The presence of sannyasis like Gopal Krishna Goswami, Radhanatha Swami, Giriraj Swami, Navyogendra Swami encouraged and added to the enthusiasm of all those present.

The Deities spent the second day giving darshan and accepting service from the devotees. Another Chappan bhoga offering was made by the temple devotees in the evening.

The much awaited Rath Yatra day brought with it elated devotees and curious onlookers. The newly painted Raths decorated with multi coloured flowers and balloons carried Their Lordships. A group from Pune, brought in especially for the festival, literally painted the whole temple and the roads of Mumbai in a festive mood with their beautiful rangoli designs. The designs were so beautiful that even the passerby's stopped to have a look. The rock band led by Eklayva Das captivated the participants and onlookers alike. It was hard for people not to chant and dance along with the kirtan group. They led the parade announcing the arrival of Lord Baladev, Subhadra Devi and Lord Jagannath. There were many kirtan groups singing and dancing in front of the chariots inviting people to join in. The enthralled bystanders joined the Rath Yatra en-route to the Lokhandwala garden where a beautiful pandal was erected to receive Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladev and Subhadra Devi. There was prasada distribution along the way and as well as at the pandal. Thousands took the opportunity to pull the Rath and accumulate blessings. The Rath Yatra festival culminated with nice kirtan and lectures by the senior vaishnavas and sannyasis narrating the pastimes of Lord Jagannath and the significance of the Rath Yatra festival.

 The significance of pulling the Rath has been described in the scriptures as an act of pulling Krishna in one's heart. Also, it is an enactment of Lord's pastime where the gopis feeling separation wanted to take Krishna back to Vrindavan by pulling His chariot.

The people gathered participated in this wonderful festival and experienced tremendous bliss.