Celebrating yatra with Fervor

Posted on July 5, 2011 by Anita dasi

Puri, India – July 3&4, 2011 

The day before Ratha yatra many devotees from Vrndavan, Mathura, Delhi, Bangalore, Bombay and other parts of India went from Jaya Sri Radha Damodar matha with kirtan to celebrate Gundica Marjana. With brooms and pots we danced in front of Gundica mandira before proceeding inside to clean the mandira.

That evening we went to distribute books in front of Jagannatha’s temple. The final touches were being made to the carts in preparation for the morning. The crowd was very excited in anticipation of the festival.

We met Jonny, who was working on a documentary for National Geographic about pilgrimages and religious events. In his interview he asked about the meaning of pulling the ropes. I tried my best to simply explain how Sri Krsna grew up in Vrndavan and the Vrajavasi’s love for Him is the most pure. Pulling the carts is like the Vrajavasis pulling Sri Krsna back to Vrndavan with their love.

Another camera man took some pictures of Janaki dasi, Kunja-kalika dasi and me. We were completely startled to find our picture in the next day’s paper. It’s funny all the things book distribution brings about.

The morning of Ratha yatra we distributed books on the Grand road which Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra’s carts travel from Jagannatha’s main temple to the Gundica temple where they stay for nine days. We mostly distribute books in the local Oriya language, but we always have a few Hindi, Bengali and English on hand for the devotees from across India and the world.

In the early afternoon our kirtan party came. A large picture of Srila Gurudeva was on the cart. I felt he was at the center of the kirtan party.  The enthusiastic crowd joined into the kirtan which led Baladeva’s cart, then Subhadra’s and finally Jagannatha’s cart towards the Gundica mandira.

When the carts would stop we would distribute books to those nearby in the crowd. Additionally, Sukadha dasi and Anjali dasi felt inspired to sponsor free book distribution. They each donated 1,000 small Oriya books which were distributed along with the kirtan party. To be distributing books at Ratha yatra, with the Lord watching in the middle of such a kirtan is indescribable.