Most of the people are pretty much aware of what the Holy Rath Yatra stands but for the uniformed the festival commemorates Lord Jagannath’s annual visit to Gundicha Mata’s temple.
As part of Rath Yatra, the idols of Lord Puri Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken out in a procession to Gundicha Temple and remain there for nine days. Then the idols or Rath Yatra returns to Puri Jagannath temple. The return journey of Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra is known as Bahuda Yatra.
Before I started college I decided to make the trip for the Rath Yatra. Unfortunately I had some problems and wasn’t able to make it. My chef/brother in crime/drinking partner/long lost friend and the best dhaba owner in Bhubaneswar aka Rabi Bhai decided to fulfill my dream. He is the same guy who till my second year of college made chicken kassa for me post midnight for a drink every last Saturday of the month till the government broke down his business.
But I do remember I was broke as hell with my pocket-money a couple of days away and he said what the hell you don’t do it everyday and added “Jojo Bhai Prabhnu ku dekha kariba paeen paisa nuhe , iccha darkar” (To get to the lord, what one needs is passion and not money).
Sigh! I really wish I could find Rabi Bhai again as I have lost touch with him over the time.
After a long night of railway station chai, we decided we headed for the trip to Puri for Suna Besa. It is a ritual during the devotees get to see the three lords attired in solid gold jewellery(Hence the name). Jeetu Bhai , a fine gentleman in a PG near mine studying in KEC and always up for any sort of adventure tagged along with us.
However, our car (Contessa) had a flat tire and no spare was what Rabi Bhai said (Liar :P). We sat there in his dhaba sucking on nicotine sticks thinking of a plan till someone we know arrived with his Auto. One thing led to another and finally it was me, Jeetu Bhai, Rabi Bhai and Sukuta ( Rabi Bhai’s Head Chef) in a three-wheeled rickshaw somehow squeezing our bums together with each one of us taking turns sitting next to the driver holding on to the railing behind him for our dear lives. Ture to his word, Rabi Bhai filled the gas and were on our way. En route we stopped for Malpua Dalma. In one word and keeping in spirit of our trip it was simply DIVINE.
Reaching Puri we thronged the streets, reached the deities and the sheer electricity in the air was crackling. We somehow made it our Lords feet and even though Rabi Bhai had to pay through his nose for the priests, I will never forget the day when I saw such beauty or felt such love for the Supreme One.
Even though the throng of bhakts kept pushing I felt I was in my own private oasis of serenity. The clanging of bells, the chanting, the feverish pitch of mantras and the basic need of everyone present to get a glimpse of the Lord made me feel extra special for this opportunity.
After the darshan and to clear my head we headed to the beach and it was around 1 am with the beach being completely packed. We had Poda Pitha and Gaja and jumped directly into the sea. And with enough salt water on us, we headed back to Bhubaneswar with the sun rising quietly behind our back saying good-bye.
Those who read this blog might be expecting a more divine conclusion or a euphoric moment but for me, it was more of a road trip to see the Gods I have only worshipped in photographs. For me, this trip was being one with the Lord in my own way and I believe that the Lord will bless the people with the right spirit in their hearts.
The writer is based in Kuwait and still wonders why is he stuck in the God-Forsaken-Desert. He describes himself as a 28 year old “Khaanti” Oriya and loves reading and writing.
Photos by Sunnil Kalinndi.