Ratha-Yatra Book Distribution In Jagannatha Puri-Dhama, 2015 (18–26 July)

Posted on August 11, 2015 by admin-vasanti

Every twelve to nineteen years, the wooden forms of the presiding Deities of Sri Jagannatha Puri-dhama – Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva, Subhadra and Sudarsana – are renewed. This ceremony is called ‘naba kalebar’ – naba means ‘new’ and kalebar means ‘body’. This year, 2015, was such a year. The last time this happened was nineteen years ago, in 1996, and the next time will be in 2032. Whenever the Lord makes His ‘renewed’ appearance like this, double, if not triple the amount of people attend the Ratha-yatra festival. Where in a regular year about a million pilgrims partake in the pulling of the chariots, the naba kalebar ratha-yatras attract an average of two to three million. Enough reason for our book distributors to roll up their sleeves and set out into this ocean of people, offering Srila Gurudeva’s jewel-like books to all.

On the first day of the festival, the day when the Lords leave the main Jagannatha temple (the Sri Mandira), mount Their chariots and proceed towards Gundica, we were distributing 100 books in just half an hour time! As it was Lord Jagannatha’s desire to move slow, He did not travel to Gundica in one day. Instead, He halted for the night in the middle of  Grand Road. The next morning He quickly continued and reached Gundica before noon.

For the following six days, during which Lord Jagannatha resides at Gundica, we decided to go out on distribution twice a day instead of once, as a much larger crowd than usual was expected. One group of distributors would go before noon, the other in the evening. Kirtana, and sometimes prasadam distribution, accompanied the book distribution, and as usual, locals and pilgrims alike would quickly gather around to see “the foreigners who had accepted their culture and way of living.” Books would be offered to the interested public and many happily took one, two or more, always showing great respect for the holy scriptures that they had just received. Sometimes people would join in the kirtana for some time, singing along, playing the instruments they were carrying as well, or dancing together with the devotees to the chanting of the Holy Names.

Usually the last two days of the festival (the last day of Lord Jagannatha’s stay in Gundica and the day of His return journey to the main Jagannatha temple) are highlights in our distribution. This year, however, Lord Indra (the demigod in charge of rain) put a stop to that. On both days the sky turned more and more black as we were heading towards Gundica. Thinking that Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe after all, surely would not allow any rain to stop His shower of mercy on the people of Puri, we continued despite the intimidating clouds gathering above us. “Ok, it may rain for some time, but surely we can distribute our books after the shower…” Indra-deva had other plans. As soon as we arrived, the sky opened and water started pouring down. Taking shelter of trees, other people’s umbrellas and the plastic tarp we use to display our books, we tried to keep the books, clay mrdangas and ourselves dry. When after one hour the rain had not diminished at all and there was no indication that it would do so any time soon, we decided to return to the math.  Thus our Ratha-yatra book distribution ended a little bit on a down tone, but overall it was a very successful week.

Jaya Jagannatha!

2 Comments

  1. Anjali dasi
    3 years ago

    Sorry you didn’t get my photos Janaki ji. I put them on pen drive and carried it with me.

  2. jagatam
    3 years ago

    Jai! All glories to the Sri Krsna Caitanya Sankirtan Movement! All glories to the fearless book distributors! All glories to Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga!