By Madan Mohan das
Ratha Yatra in Singapore (22/01/08)
Hare Krsna prabhus and matajis.
In the Sri Jagannath, Sri Baladeva, Srimati Subhadra Stuti it is stated:
karunamrta pathodhi sudhamne namo namah
dinoddharaika guhyaya krpapathodaye namah
‚ÄúO You who are an ocean of nectarean compassion and whose abode is most attractive, I offer my obeisances to You again and again! You uplift and deliver the fallen souls, but how you do this no one can understand. O ocean of mercy, I offer you my respectful obeisances!‚ÄĚ
As we see from the above verse, Sri Jagannath‚Äôs thoughts and activities are always engaged in trying to deliver the fallen souls of the universe. But no one knows how he actually does this. His activities are wonderful and cannot be conceived. This truth was extraordinarily exhibited in Singapore during the annual Thaipusam festival which is celebrated by all the Hindus in Singapore to glorify Lord Kartikeya.
The Thaipusam festival is celebrated in a grand scale in Singapore every year, with at least a few thousand devotees attending the procession. Devotees of Lord Kartikeya carry milk pots and kavadis along a 4km route right through the busy streets of Singapore to fulfill their vows. This year however, by the mercy of Srila Prabhupada and Lord Kartikeya, the devotees decided to hold a Ratha Yatra during the Thaipusam festival.
It was a sublime morning as thousands of people gathered to engage in the procession. The Lord saw this as the best time to descend, as the devotees pulled the Rath of the Lord into the start point of the procession which happens to be the temple of Sri Srinivasa Perumal, another merciful form of the Lord.
Firstly the devotees offered the Lord bhoga, which was then followed by arati. As this was being done, the kirtan party began chanting. As the devotees carried on with their service to the Lord, curious onlookers started to surround. As the kirtan continued throughout the arati more and more people started to gather. Just by looking at their faces one could see that many were appreciating the devotees for their very precise and expert way of performing offerings to the Lord. It was clearly evident that they had seen nothing like this before. For the devotees though, they were just carrying out the usual activities the way Prabhupada had set it for us. And this was just the beginning.
After all the initial preparations, the devotees started their journey. It is a general rule that during the procession no one is allowed to play any instruments. Only singing and clapping of the hands is allowed. The devotees were more than happy with this as they still got to go out with the Lord. As expected, the procession route was filled with thousands of onlookers. The devotees started kirtan. They peacefully clapped and chanted along the way. Just a few minutes into the route, one of the devotees started to play the kartal, the chanting also got louder. Within another few minutes another one of the devotees start playing the mrdanga. The chanting got even louder as the loud hailers were brought in. Throughout the whole route there were also many police officers stationed to make sure everyone followed the rules. At this point, the devotees were chanting their lungs out to the accompaniment of the kartals and mrdanga. And to everyone‚Äôs surprise, the devotees were not stopped or questioned even once. As the procession continued, more onlookers had gathered, and every single one of them was beaming with a smile as the devotees danced pass them with the Lord. It was a dream come true for us all. Never had we imagined that we could ever bring Jagannath out in the public. But not only had the Lord allowd that, but he had also allowed us to do full fledged kirtan along the way. The devotees were literally pinching themselves as it truly seemed like a dream. The inconceivable mercy of the Lord was at work. As the devotees were reaching the end point (Lord Kartikeya‚Äôs temple) it started raining very heavily. As the rain started to pour, the kirtan just got louder and more ecstatic. Nothing could dampen the spirits of the devotees as the Lord was completely with them. With a feeling of gratitude towards the Lord, the devotees danced and jumped for His pleasure. As the Lord‚Äôs Rath entered the temple, the devotees lifted the Rath to enable Lord Kartikeya to have darshan of his beloved Lord Krsna. As the Lord and His devotee looked upon one another the kirtan reached its height. Many of the public also joined in. To conclude, milk offered to Lord Jagannath was then offered to Lord Kartikeya for his pleasure.
In this way the devotees victoriously rolled the Lord out of the temple as many other people came forward to pray and pay onesiances to the Lord. The Lord had fully captivated everyone. He had fully manifested and distributed His mercy. And at the end of it all, no one really knew how it all happened.
Jai Srila Prabhupada Ki Jai!
Sri Jagannath, Sri Baladeva, Srimati Subhadra Maharani Ki Jai!
Photos can be viewed at:
Your humble servant
Madan Mohan das