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Shri Jagannatha Rath Yatra Celebrated in Aurora

AURORA, IL- Shri Jagannath Temple of Greater Chicago in Aurora, IL, celebrated Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath of Shrikhetra, Puri, one of the four most holiest places in India (Chaturdham), on July 6th, Saturday. Hundreds of Jagannath devotees from various communities attended the annual event with great enthusiasm and excitement. Local Alderman Mr. Emmanuel Llamas joined the event. He was welcomed by the board members Mr. Pradip Nayak and Neel Nanda, who explained the culture and process to him.

In the morning traditional rituals of Surya Pooja, Dwarapal Pooja, Lord Jagannath Pooja, Naibedya, Arati and Chariot Pooja were performed by the temple priest. All the deities were taken to the Chariot in a row with Chakraraj Sudarshan leading followed by elder brother Lord Balabhadra, Sister Devi Subhadra, and Lord Jagannath at the end. This process is called as “Dhadi Pahandi”, it has a significant cultural importance symbolizing respect to elders, and protecting the youngest or woman in the family during public journey. The four deities were placed on the beautifully decorated chariot. Mr.Akhil Mohapatra did the “Chera Panhara”, the sweeping / cleaning around the chariot and the road. This work is done by the Gajapati Maharaj (King) in Puri symbolizing that the king is the first servitor of Lord, there is no difference between ruler and ruled in front of Lord Jagannath. After all rituals completed, the ecstatic devotees pulled the chariot with great joy, playing various traditional instruments such as Counch, brass Ghanta, Gini, and Mrudang (Drum). The chariot was pulled for a mile, Lord were offered various cakes and sweet mango water on the way. The chariot was puled back to the Temple, Maha Arati was offered before all deities were carried over to Gundicha temple for a sojourn at his Aunt’s house.

After a week on July 14th, Lord Jagannath returned to the main temple on a return journey known as “Bahuda Yatra”. There was a brief squabble between MahaLakshmi and Lord Jagannath as he went with his brother and sister leaving his consort Maa Lakshmi in the temple. MahaLakhmi did not open the door of main temple for Lord Jagannath. After argument and requests, Mahalakhmi agreed and welcomed Lord Jagannath to the temple, Lord had presented “Rasagola” the famous sweet to MahaLakshmi to please her. It is an old tradition showing the usual relationship between husband and wife in a family. All the deities were decorated with a Gold like costume known as “Suna Besha”. It was a magnificent view of the deities in that costume. Many devotees came to see the deities in golden costume.

The day long event was very well managed by few dedicated volunteers of Sri Jagannath Society of Greater Chicago. They worked relentlessly preparing various sweets, food, decorating the chariot, and serving prasad (food) to hundreds of devotees attended. Sri Jagannath Society is very grateful to these volunteers, members, devotees, and the city administration for making this event very successful.

Shri Jagannath Temple is operating for last 11 years in Chicago land, located at 2295 Church Rd., Aurora, IL. All devotees are welcome to visit the temple and be a part of this organization.

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