By Purushottam Kumar
42nd Kolkata Rath Yatra, organized by ISKCON, was inaugurated by Chief Minister of West Bengal Smt. Mamata Banerjee and ISKCON sanyasis and senior disciples of Srila Prabhupada, HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj and HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj on 10th July, Wednesday. On this occasion Bengali megastar Koyal Mullick was also present. The 3 magnificent chariots carrying Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladev and Subhadra Devi rolled out from the Park Circus Maidan amidst the loud chant of Hare Krishna and Jay Jagannath. Thousands of people had gathered to witness this mega event.
HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj and HH Bhakti Charu Swami Maharaj addressed the devotees. They spoke about the significance of Rath Yatra festival and the benefits which one gets by participating in it. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was quite enthused with the devotional atmosphere; she too spoke on this occasion and promised to participate in all Rath Yatra festivals in future.
Thousands of people were eagerly waiting en-route to have glimpse of the Lord of the universe and to pull the ropes. Around 4.5 lakh people participated in this festival of chariots. Rath Yatra procession reached Brigade ground after covering around 10 km at 6 p.m. Here a makeshift Gundicha temple has been built where the Lord will stay till 18th July. During these days various cultural programs will be organized.
Rath Yatra is one of the most important festivals. In Rath Yatra everyone can participate irrespective of caste, creed, religion and nationality. It gives the message of universal peace - if we accept Lord Jagannath as our universal father then there will be universal brotherhood. In spiritual life there is everything which people are looking for â€“ music, culture, prasadam, dance, songs etc. The only difference is that these are done for the pleasure of the Lord which gives complete satisfaction.
Purushottam Kumar is a member of the congregation at ISKCON Kolkata. He works as a Senior Business Associate in Tech Mahindra, Kolkata.