Grand Rath Yatra Celebrated at Sunnyvale Hindu Temple

Sunnyvale, Calif. — The Sunnyvale Hindu Temple here celebrated the annual festival of Rath Yatra for Lord Jagannath in grand fashion on June 28.

Echoing the spirit of the lively three-chariot annual festival held in Jagannath Puri, Orissa, this auspicious event has found favor with Indian American devotees and other NRIs residing outside of India.

At the temple, devotees dressed in their finery gathered to earn the spiritual benefits of participating by manually drawing the chariot, symbolically sweeping the streets, which were then strewn with flowers to observe this special journey.

Chanting, singing and playing of the drums accompanied the chariot procession as it circled the temple precincts.

On reaching the temple, the devotees accompanied the deities to their symbolic visiting home inside the temple and offered prayers, kirtan and obeisance.

After days of a special diet for the deities, a feast in the Oriya tradition was prepared as Bhoga Arati to honor the deities on their arrival.

This included Kanika, a famous sweet rice with dry fruits and ghee; special dal; Deulia Besara; mixed vegetables with mustard seed paste; saag, with fresh pumpkin greens and red leaves; Kakharu made with pumpkin and coconut, special chutney; and an array of sweet preparations.

Mahaprasad was distributed to all those present, who were then served the special feast in the spacious renovated dining hall.

According to Puranic lore, the annual festival starts with Snana Yatra, or the ritual Abhisekha or Bathing Festival on the full moon day of the month of Jestha. On this day, the presiding deities, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Lady Subhadra, are bathed with 108 pots of water after which their Lordships and Lady Subhadra are indisposed. From that day the deities remain in symbolic seclusion and ritual convalescence for about two weeks. They are barred from view of the ordinary devotees. During this period, the deities recuperate with special offerings, traditionally given only roots, leaves, berries and fruits to cure them from their indisposition.

On their recovery, crowds throng to see the deities having suffered separation from them for 14 days. With great pomp and ceremony, the Rath Yatra festival commemorates Lord Jagannath’s resplendent emergence from seclusion and his annual visit to Gundicha Mata’s temple via his aunt’s home, Mausi Maa Temple, near Balagandi Chaka in Puri.

As part of the Ratha Yatra, the deities of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Lady Subhadra are taken out in a grand procession to Gundicha temple where they visit for nine days before their return Bahuda Yatra to their Main temple abode in Puri.

Source: India West