Dubai: The car festival of Lord Jagannath, traditionally known as the Jagannath Rath Yatra, is said to be the oldest of its kind and marks the return of Lord Krishna to Vrindavan with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra. Also known as Ratha Jatra or Chariot festival, it attracts huge crowds of pilgrims who join the procession every year in Puri, Odisha.
Not to be left behind, the Odia diaspora, spread across the globe, also celebrate this festival with great religious fervour.
Odisha Samaj of the United Arab Emirates (OSUAE), supposedly the largest association of Non-Resident Odias in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region organised the annual Rath Yatra celebration at Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday, the 26th of June.
Close to 500 Odias from all over the UAE gathered at a centrally located Hall in Dubai to celebrate the festival. Dressed in their best traditional outfits, men, women and children excitedly joined the celebrations.
The Vedic ritual of ‘Dhadi Pahandi’ of Lord Sudarshan, Lord Balabhadra, Goddess Subhadra and finally Lord of the Universe – Lord Jagannath was started on time. The Priest conducted Puja-Archana chanting Vedic Mantras as per Hindu Culture. The devotees then offered ‘Pushpanjali’ to Mahaprabhu followed by ‘Chhera Pahanra’. Finally everybody joined their hands together to pull the chariot and celebrate Rath Yatra. Chants of ‘Hare Rama Sankirtan’ and ‘Jai Jagannath’ made the place heavenly and the hall turned into a ‘Mini-Shrikshetra’.
In fact, one of the highlights of this year’s celebrations was the presence of the ‘Hari Nam Sankirtan Mandali’. The traditional musical instruments of Mrudanga, Karatala and Gini created magic . Chanting of Hare Krishna Mahamantra by the Mandali electrified the atmosphere and got the entire crowd of devotees swaying to their chants.
Mahaprasad was prepared in a marathon night long effort by a dedicated team of Non Resident Odias, passionate about Odia Food. Prasad Seban happened in an Ananda Bazar type atmosphere. Traditional Odia dishes – Anna, Dalma, Potala Kasa, Amba Khata & Khiri were served as Mahaprasad. This meal was greatly relished by all and was an apt finale to the celebrations of the day.