Bhubaneswar : The grand BAHUDA YATRA, at the end of the Ratha Yatra Festival was celebrated for the very first time in London by Shree Jagannatha Society UK (SJSUK) at Shri Ram Mandir, King Street, Southall. Nearly 500 rapturous Jagannatha devotees from across the UK and Europe gathered to sing, dance and joyously pull the colourfully bedecked hand-crafted chariot bearing the divine deities through the streets of Southallas cymbals, drums and conches rang out and cries of ‘Hari Bolo’ rang out. This is the first time that these elaborate rituals and festivities were conducted in accordance with Jagannatha Riti (age old practices and traditions) and as per the Vidhi (religious procedures) laid out in Skanda Purana.Established on the Auspicious Akshaya Trithiya day in 2020, SJSUK is a Registered Charity whose principal goal is to construct a majestic Shree Jagannatha Mandir in London and whose mission is to spread Jagannatha Culture across UK andEurope.
The Bahuda Yatrarituals began with a devout Homa (Havan; ritual fire offering) followed by Ratha Pratishtha (consecration of the Chariot), Chatrudha Murti Snana (ritual bathing of the four celestial deities) was performed and offering of Khechudi Bhoga to the Lords. After ceremonial despatch of the Agnya Mala to the Rathaand Taahia Lagi, where the deities were adorned with elaborate headgear made out of flower arrangements, the deities were carried to their chariot by ecstatic devoteesswaying and dancing to the beats of cymbals and conches in Pahandi Bije.Chhera Pahanra ritual, where the chariot was ceremonially swept by a golden broom, was performed by Mr Virendra Sharma, Hon’ble Member, House of Commons from Ealing-Southall, Mr. Umesh Sharma, Chairperson, Shri Ram Mandir Southall, and Mr. Loknath Mishra,Managing Director and CEO of ICICI Bank UK PLC.“I am very happy that London’s Southall is hosting such a colourful spiritual festival that has drawn hundreds of devotees to join in celebration of Lord Jagannatha’s Ratha Yatra” said MP, Mr. Virendra Sharma. Along with the good wish messages from dignitaries present, received a video message from Shree Mohanji.
Devotees were able to offer Puja and archana (consecrated offerings) to the deities on the chariot, and to pull the Ratha, amidst singing of bhajans and loud cries of Hari Bolo and Jai Jagannatha, in a ceremonial procession to their home temple abode.The devotees were also treated to delicious Chhappan Bhog Prasadwhich comprises of 56 special delicacies and included such unique delicacies like chhena taadia, poda pitha, khiramohana etc.An enchanting programme of Satsang followed with performances by artistes from the Geetanjali Academy of Fine Arts, London as well asby SJS UK members led by Mrs. Geetanjali Kar,Dr. Lipi Pradhan, and Master Shrimukund Shatapathy. Mr. Amish Tripathi, noted author and columnist and Director of The Nehru Centre in London,participated in the Madana MohanaPrana Pratishtha rituals.Mr. Tripathisaid “I am delighted to see the massive excitement and response to the Ratha Yatra festival in the UK. I congratulate SJSUK for its efforts in spreading the universal message that Lord Jagannatha embodies through his Ratha Yatra of non-discrimination and attainment of bliss through service towards others”. Helaunched a book entitled ‘Shree Jagannatha Sanskruti Adhyayana’, authored by Dr. Ajay Mishra, that contains 11 chapters for the benefit of all Jagannatha devotees.
Later the Adharapana Niti and Niladri Bije Niti were performed as the deities were carried in Pahandi from their Ratha into the Temple. However before they could enter the temple sanctum sanctorum, the ritual of Lakshmi Narayana Kaliwas carried out, where a miffed Goddess Lakshmi barred entry of the divine siblings into the temple,as she was not included in their 9 day trip! Goddess Lakshmi was mollified by Lord Jagannatha through the offering of specially prepared sweetmeats, Gainthal Pitha and Rasagola Bhog.A role-play was joyfully enacted by married Jagannatha devotee couples on behalf of Mahaprabhu and Maha Lakshmi to the recitation of Lakshmi Narayana Kali poem authored by Dr. Ajay Mishra, a learned Jagannatha devotee and retired Associate Professor of Odia literature visiting the UK from Cuttack, and the wives fed rasagolas by their husbands. The four Chaturdha Murtis then ascended their thrones as part of Singhasan Niti andthe day’s celebrations came to an end with the deities being offered Niladri Abhada (cooked food), and Aarati.
Dr. Prakash Dey, Secretary of SJSUK, assured Jagannatha devotees that “SJSUK is committed to constructing a grand Jagannatha Mandir London and soon we hope to celebrate Ratha Yatra with Lord Jagannatha’s chariot being pulled by thousands of devotees”. SJSUK Treasurer, Mr. Bhakta Panda, stated that “despite living in a foreign land, far away from India, SJSUK has tried to adhere to all the traditions of Lord Jagannatha, with the support of priests from Sri Jagannatha Mandir Puri, and to thus preserve the spiritual link between Jagannatha devoteesin the UK and Purushottama Kshetra Puri”. The hundreds of devotees who had come from all over the UK and Europehad a spiritual experience like never before, and the opportunity tocleanse themselves of accumulated bad karmaphala (fruits of bad karma), and journey home rapturously after participating in a Ratha Yatra festival that was carried out in complete accordance with the rituals similar to those in Purushottama Kshetra Puri. A beautiful rendition of Jagannatha Ashtakam sung by artists from Bhubaneswar- Manaswini and Bidhu was launched on this occasion as well.
Besides celebrating Ratha Yatra in London, SJS UK also performed Jagannatha Seva at Purushottama Kshetra Puri too during these auspicious 9 days. Recognising the difficulty devotees have in braving the hot sun as they queue for hours to gain darshan of Lord Jagannatha on His chariot and in Gundicha Mandir, Shree Jagannatha Society UK and Mohanji Foundation joined hands with Ammucare India and Chhattis Nijog, Puri to distribute Free Maha Prasad and mineral water bottles to pilgrims in Puri. A stall offering this “MAHA PRASAD SEVA” was set up right next to Gundicha Mandir do so and was relished by all. The delicacies included Dahi Pakhala, Tanka Torani in the morning, and Mitha Kanika, and Mohana Bhogain the afternoon, and also Chuda Ghasa on the last day of Bahuda along with bottled mineral water with to refresh themselves.
About Shree Jagannatha Society UK
SJSUK plans to complete the 1st Phase of construction of the Shree Jagannatha Mandir London by 2024 at a projected cost of 4 million GB pounds (Rs. 40 Crores), and is currently in active discussions to acquire a large piece of land in suburban London to construct UK’s first dedicated Shree Jagannatha Mandir, which will be the epicentre of Jagannatha Culture in Europe and a major attraction for devotees and tourists from across the world. Hon’ble Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Naveen Patnaik and the Government of Odisha have promised support to construct a grand Jagannatha Mandir in London.SJS UK has established close contact with Gajapati Maharaja Shri Dibyasingha Deb and senior priests of Sri Mandir Puri for their guidance SJS UK has also been energetically conducting severalhumanitarian, social, educational and spiritual initiatives such as Covid19 Relief to affected communities in Rural Odisha, supporting rural schools and orphanages and plantation of 100,000 neem saplings in Odisha, and establishment of Jagannatha Health and Wellness Initiative where blood donation camps have been conducted in UK and India.
Shree Jagannatha Society, United Kingdom is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered with the Charity Commission England and Wales (Registration No. 1191544). All donations to SJS UK are tax exempt in the UK, and can be made via Direct Bank Transfer or PayPal. Further details are available on the websitehttps://www.shreejagannatha.uk/and via email to [email protected].
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