By Basu Ghosh Das
Pictures of the festival posted on the internet:
Scanned print media (newspaper) clippings also posted on the internet:
On aashaadh shukla dvitiya, known in Gujarat as ‚Äúaashaadh sud bij‚ÄĚ, Wednesday July 10, 2013, ISKCON Baroda once again organized a highly successful Jagannath Rathayatra festival that was seen by approximately two lakhs (200,000) local residents.
Before the Rathayatra procession began in the afternoon, prominent elected leaders of society visited the Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar Mandir at ISKCON Baroda in the morning for darshan of the Deities.
The dignitaries included Gujarat State Minister for Energy and Industries, Sri Saurabh Patel, who was elected to the State Assembly from our local constituency, the Honorable Mayor of Baroda, Sri Bharatbhai Shah, who is an old friend of the temple, Deputy Mayor Smt. Seema Mohile, Baroda City President of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Sri Bharat Dangar, Leader of the opposition Congress Party in the Baroda Municipal Corporation, Sri Batubhai Shrivastava, Vuda (Vadodara Urban Development Corporation) Chairman Sri Naranbhai Patel, and Municipal Commissioner, Sri Manish Bharadwaj (IAS).
Also present was ex-Minister/ex-MLA Sri Bhupendra Lakhawala, and ex-Mayor Sri Shabasharan Brahmbhatt. Also two ex-deputy Mayors, Municipal Councilors, and several leaders of the opposition Congress party, including City Congress President Sri Narendra Rawat, ex-Mayor Sri Dalsukh Prajapati, Sri Anuj Patel and Sri Suresh Patel also visited the temple.
At 2:30 PM, the Mayor of Baroda, Sri Bharat Shah swept the road in front of the Rath, as does the Gajapati Maharaja of Puri, at Jagannath Puri, to inaugurate the Rathayatra. A huge crowd of several thousands gathered at the Baroda (Vadodara) Railway Station, where the Rathayatra procession begins.
The most of the very same political leaders mentioned above, as well as District Collector Sri Vinod Rao (IAS), and MLA Jitubhai Sukhadia, came onto the Rath and offered garlands to Sri Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev, and Subhadradevi.
A host of media personnel were also present filming the inaugural period of the Rathayatra, and the Rathayatra got very good local and possibly all India electronic and print media coverage.
ISKCON senior leaders Bhakti Vikas Swami and Bhima Das participated in the Rathayatra.
Also Murlimohan Das, Co-TP of ISKCON Vijayawada, Surapati Das, Co-TP of ISKCON Lucknow, Vrajendranandan Das, Vice President of ISKCON New Delhi, Sachidananda Das, President, ISKCON Vallabh Vidyanagar, and Radharanjan Das of ISKCON Lucknow/Kanpur also attended.
Narsingh Das of ISKCON Vrindavan led kirtan for almost two hours. Bhakti Vikas Swami led kirtan for more than an hour, despite chronic voice problems. A large contingent of devotees from Chandigarh and Vrindavan engaged in harinam sankirtan from the beginning of the procession until the end.
This year the crowds at the beginning of the procession were noticeably larger than the past. It was a group of thousands that accompanied the Rath from the Railway station, through Sayajiganj to the Kala Ghoda (‚Äúblack horse‚ÄĚ) Circle, near the Sayaji Bagh (public garden, named after Maharaja (King) Sayaji Rao Gaekwad.
From there the procession was met by one group after the other, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Muslims of Macchipith, Bharat Maharaj of Santram Mandir, Ashok Pawar at Raopura, Mataji of Dhuliram Pedawala, Raopura businesmens association at Raopura, Jubilee Bagh, Sri Padmavati Shopping Center/Sur Sagar, Sri Ghani Kureshi, and the Lawyer‚Äôs association in front of the City & District Courts, ‚ÄúNyaya Mandir‚ÄĚ, unofficial municipal employees greeting in front of Khanderao Market, the Muslim community of Dudhwala Mohalla, near Bhagat Singh Chowk, Mahant of the Ramji Mandir, Madan Zampa Road, Kahar Samaj at Pattar Gate, Siddhi Vinayak Mandir near Jairatna Building and Kevda Bagh. There were others who greeted the Rath at various places who‚Äôs names are too numerous to mention.
There were countless residents of Baroda who, along the way, also greeted the Rath and offered fruits, garlands, sprouted mung, and sweets to Lord Jagananth, Baladev, and Subhadradevi.
Once again, as always, the festival passed off peacefully. The Police and RAF [Rapid Action Force] forces who were deployed in large numbers served ‚Äúabove and beyond the call of duty‚ÄĚ, as they continued to accompany and protect the procession despite the latter part of the procession continuing in the midst of ‚Äúheavy rainfall‚ÄĚ! Heavy rain began as the procession reached Khandrao Market and continued until the Rathayatra reached its conclusion at the Baroda High School, opposite the Polo Ground.
Bhakti Vikas Swami performed arati and lectured to at least a thousand persons who were with the Rath at the end of the yatra and were too excited by the festival to just leave, despite the trying conditions.
Afterward the Rathayatra , thousands of residents of Baroda were served a full plate (bhojan) prasad at the ISKCON Sri Sri Radha Shyamsundar Mandir. However, the numbers were less than in the past due to the heavy rain.
The following volunteers and donors rendered exceptional services to the Rathayatra festival and it is fitting that their names be mentioned here: Gopal Shah, Chirag Thakkar, Mayur Shah, Ketan Patel, Chirag Barot, Bharat Patel, [both municipal councilors from the temple ward] Dhirubhai Patel, Nrupesh Patel, Seva Vilas Das, Manish Patel, Shivlal Goyal, and Dinesh Dalal.
Once again the festival was a grand success, and enlivened hundreds of thousands in Krishna Consciousness here at Baroda!
Jagannath Swami ki jaya! Jagannath Rathayatra Mahotsav ki jaya! Jagannath, Baladev, Subhadra, Sudarshan chakra ki jaya!