BY VEENA RAO
Photos by Bytegraph.com
Atlanta, GA: Hundreds of devotees pulled the decorated chariot for Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra in an elaborate procession at the second annual Jagannath Ratha Yatra held at the Hanuman Temple in Alpharetta on July 13. SaReGaMa singing superstar Sniti Mishra rendered melody to the occasion by singing devotional songs. Swami Adyanada Saraswati from Nashville performed the rituals as per Puri temple guidelines for six hours before the ceremonial procession began.
The Ratha Yatra was organized by the Hanuman Mandir with the support of Georgia Oriya Society and temple devotees like Anjan and Indrani Duttagupta.
Several guests including Deputy Consul General Rajinder Singh, Gandhi Foundation chairman Subash Razdan, Global Mall owner Shiv Aggarwal, and temple devotees were seen sweeping around the chariot and the deities. The ‘chera pahara’ (sweeping with water) is a major ritual of the festival, and signifies that under the lordship of Jagannath, there was no distinction between the powerful and the humble.
The Prana Prathistha of Lord Jagannath was performed on March 23rd, 24th, 25th by Swami Adyananda Saraswati at the Hanuman Mandir. Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu, whose name literally means Lord of the Universe, resides inside the temple with his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra.
Swami Adyanada Saraswati, in his message to devotees said: “Worship of Lord Jagannath in Puri from time immemorial, has led to the evolution of a distinct culture known as Jagannath culture. Jagannath is known all over Orissa as the Black God or Kaliya with great love, devotion, and Shraddha, or “committed attachment”.”
“Jagannath culture does not represent any particular type of worship of any individual sect. Religious life is the expression of collective values, and life as a social group. Jagannath culture believes in universality and not in sectarianism. There is only one universe and universality in spite of all diversity. Jagannath is the God of masses. He does not belong to a single religion, he embraces the entire human tradition.” he added.
In Swami Adyananda Saraswati’s view, a close observation of Jagannath’s worship, attire, food, and rituals, reveals that his culture has assimilated several aspects from other cultures. It is free from regional narrowness. The essence of all religious scriptures, and the synthesis of all great cultures, can be seen in Jagannath culture,” said Swami Adyananda Saraswati
“Tolerance of all races, religions, and cultures of the world is an outstanding human value propagated by this culture,” he said. “The aim of Jagannath culture is to bring the entire human community of the world into the ambit of one family. This is known as Vishwa Manava Dharma (world humanitarianism). Lord Jagannath accepts all, rejects no devotion but He Himself is independent, and outside of all these elements.”
Devotee Sambeet Dash of Columbus, GA said, “Jagannath culture envisages devotion and respect for elders, affection for children and invokes us to do the right thing and follow the path of righteousness and justice.”
“Juggernaut from Jagannath is probably the only word in the English lexicon which originates from Orissa, meaning a heavy vehicle on the roll,” he added.
Rath yatras were held all over the world in July to coincide with the oldest and largest one in Puri, Orissa.
The Hanuman Mandir plans build a permanent temple on the property where it currently stands. The temple is currently raising funds for a down payment and renovation of the property.
“We need 200,000 as down payment and for renovation of the current property and land at 390 Cumming Street, Alpharetta 30004,” said temple devotee Indrani Duttagupta. “So far we have pledges of about a quarter of the amount.”
The temple will also have the Rama Parivar and the Lord Jagannath Parivar, as they are already installed on the property. It also proposes to have Lord Ganapathi.”
“All those who have pledged, and those who have not, are requested to help as soon as possible, in helping reach this goal within the deadline. This is a 501(C) Corporation, with every donation to it fully tax deductible. More detailed plans will be drawn up and offered to the public as soon as the down payment is organized,” said Duttagupta.