Some Jagannatha Mandir sevaites have not understood the complexities of staging Ratha-yatra festivals around the world, where 1) you don’t tell the city authorities when the festival is, you ask them when it can be; 2) where Rath carts need to be scheduled to move from city to city, and 3) where the best attendance–service to Jagannatha–is not necessarily in the middle of summer when everyone is on holiday.
Rath yatra is a few days away and the entire city of Jagannatha Puri, Orissa, India is gearing up for the festival billed for July 4. But Jagannath Temple authorities are worried about ‘incongruous celebrations’ organized by ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) on different days across the country. In 2007, the institution organized rath yatras in October and December instead of the official dates in June.
“We are not sure whether ISKCON temples across the country will celebrate rath yatra on July 4 like the rest of the country. Last year there were innumerable protests from all over the country and things will be worse if they do the same this year,” Jagannath temples administrator Binod Bihari Mohanty said.
When ISKCON temples across the country flouted the age-old tradition of celebrating rath yatra in June-July they were criticized by clerics all over Puri. In chandigarh, Ludhiana and Delhi they pulled the Lord’s chariots in October and December. This irked Jagannath temple priests and disciples of Puri Sankaracharya, who took to the streets to protest against such an outrageous incident.
“Last year we could not stop them because the violation came to our notice only after their celebrations were over. But this year we are prepared to take actron,” Mohanty added.
“We are contemplating to spread awareness among the Jagannath Shrines, including the ISKCON temples across the country to the celebrate rath yatra on the date finalized by Jagannath temple authorities. We can write letters to those temples before the scheduled date,” he added.
Temple priests also feel it is a good idea to help ISKCON mend their way “The time is apt to sensitize the ISKCON temples about the tradition of Jagannath temple. Even though Jagannath temples exist in every nook and corner of the world, the Jagannath Temple at Puri is the real abode of Lord Jagannath. Going by the age-old tradition, the annual rath yatra of the Lord is observed on asadha sukla Dwitiya that usually falls in June and July in the Gregorian calender,” general secretary of Sri Jagannath Sebayat Sammilani Hare Krishna Mahasuar said.