Jay Deshav Das
Just imagine you haven’t seen your most beloved one for a long time. Wouldn’t a reunion with him or her be the cause of your paramount pleasure? But something different happened about 5000 years ago, when the reunion of two most intimate parties had been the cause of enhanced separation. The divine brothers, Krishna and Balarama had enacted their enchanting childhood pastimes at Vrindavan. They captivated the hearts of the residents there, so much so that they could not bear even a moment of separation from the brothers. But this happiness did not stay with the Vrajavasis for a long time. When Krishna and Balarama were still young children, unexpectedly their uncle Akrura took them to Mathura, leaving the tender hearts of the residents of Vrindavan devastated.
After several decades, on a day of solar eclipse, Krishna and Balarama along withtheir sister Subhadra came to the pilgrimage site of Kurukshetra to have holy baths. Knowing that Krishna was coming to Kurukshetra, the residents of Vrindavan also came there to meet him. Although the sight of Krishna revived their lives, the residents of Vrindavan simultaneously felt extreme separation after reunion with Krishna. The reason being, every relationship has an inherent mood that forms the basis of such bonding. And that mood often demands a particular ambience and even outfits. The Vrajavasis who were accustomed to see Krishna as a simple cowherd boy holding a flute in his hand, could not appreciate this form of their beloved as a royal prince of the kingly order. Desiring to have his association again in his charming form of Gopal, they pulled the chariots of Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra within their hearts towards Vrindavan. This earnest invitation of Vrajavasis later turned out to be the grandest and most popular event on this planet called ‘Jagannath Ratha Yatra.’ This festival of chariots, also called by the names Gundicha Yatra, Ghosa Yatra,Navadina Yatra & Dasavatara Yatra is celebrated every year at JagannathPuri in the state of Orissa. Traditionally the utsava murtis or the representative deities of a temple are taken out for procession. But in Jagannath Puri, the presiding wooden deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra along with the celestial wheel Sudarshana, are taken out for procession during the Jagannath Ratha yatra. The huge colorful chariots are drawn by thousands of devotees to the Gundicha temple.
Ratha yatra is the day when Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe bestows His causeless mercy on every living entity by personally coming out of His abode. Saints and scriptures have repeatedly glorified the sanctity of this most special and auspicious festival. A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered most auspicious. Even a touch of the chariot or the ropes with which they are being pulled is enough to confer the results of several pious deeds or penance for ages. Srila Prabhupada, the founder acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness took this most magnificient manifestation of mercy of the Supreme Lord, to various parts of the world and thousands of Ratha yatras are being held over hundreds of cities worldwide today by ISKCON.