Lord Jagannath's Abodes around the World

BY: JAHNAVA DEVI

Lord Jagannatha, Baladev and Subhadra in Ranchi Temple


Aug 5, CANADA (SUN) — For those who missed the Ratha Yatra in Puri last month, a large collection of video is now available on YouTube of the entire procession.. Much of this footage was shot from close vantage points in the crowd, and gives the viewer a distinct taste of the ecstatic mood amongst the devotees of the Lord of the Universe.

By the mercy of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, the world is now benedicted by the Jagannatha Ratha Yatra, as the Ratha is taken out by ISKCON devotees in many cities, towns and villages. This has created a great popularity for the Ratha Yatra, particularly in the west, which had never before seen such a transcendental spectacle.

Many Hindu temple communities outside of the Gaudiya Vaisnava family are now being inspired to follow ISKCON's example, and small Ratha Festivals are appearing in many new places. In this article, we will explore some of the Ratha Yatras taking place not only in the west, but elsewhere in India outside of Jagannatha Puri, aside from our own ISKCON rathas.

Jagannatha Puri Dhama is certainly the devotional center of Orissa, and countless numbers of devotees appear each year to take part in the Ratha Yatra. But the procession of Sri Jagannatha, Baladev and Subhadra is also carried in many other Orissan locations.


In Ganjam, there is a Jagannath Temple at Palur, near Rambha. Others are found in Cuttack city, and Rourkela, located in the northwestern tip of Orissa. In Rourkela, the Lord's abode is the famous Ahirabandh Temple, which celebrates all the festivals taking place in Jagannath Puri.

Elsewhere in Orissa, the Ratha Yatra and worship of Lord Jagannath is found in Paradip port, as well as in Baripada. In Baripada, Lord Jagannath is worshipped as Shri Shri Haribaldev Mahaprabhu. It is said that Maharaja Baidyanath Bhanj had been to Puri to have darshan of Lord Jagannath, but he was denied audience with the Lord. Some historical records say that the Maharaja was denied access due to his prominent standing, whereas the prevailing custom of the dayt was that devotees should come as common men, now showing of any supremacy over the Gajapati.

The Maharaja went to Atharnala, on the outskirts of Puri, to perform austerities, and was ordered by Lord Jagannath in a dream to construct a temple in Baripada. The Bhanja Rulers, whose royal patronage in the field of architecture was super-excellent, saw to it that a magnificent temple was build in the style of Jagannath Puri, built in 1575 A.D.

Besides the presiding Deities in Baripada's Haribaldev temple, there are as many as seventeen Bedha Deities consecrated in the temple. The temple compound also has many small cells in which various murtis are found, including Avalokiteswar Paraswanath and Umamaheswar, Jain Tirthankaras, Rishabhanath, Paraswanath and Mahavir. The nearby Radhamohan temple of Baripada serves as 'Gundicha Mandir' of Lord Jagannath. This temple, along with Rasika Raya, repesents the cult of Neo-Vaishanavism which was popular in Orissa before Sri Chaitanya.

During the Ratha Yatra in Baripada, three gigantic chariots of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Shubhadra move out through the district. This ratha Yatra is famous for having two chariots separately pulled by women and children, a tradition that is exclusive to Mayurbhanj. Lady Subhadra's chart is pulled by the women, in a tradition begun in order to keep the women safer amongst the throngs of men.

There is also an exclusive chariot for the children to pull, which is smaller in height and size, the "badadanda" (broadway) on which the chariot rolls on is relatively shorter in length too. Unlike Puri, Baripadaís car festival takes three days for the deities to reach their auntís abode.

Further afield from Puri, the Ratha Yatra at Ramnagar, near Varanasi, is also notable amongst Indian rathas. Similarly, the Jagannath temple near Ranchi holds a Ratha Yatra each year that attracts thousands of devotees from nearby towns and villages. The Ranchi Jagannath temple was built in 1681 by Thakur Ani Nath Shahdeo, the King of Barkagarh Jagannathpur. Built in the style of the Puri temple, it sits on a small hilltop. In 1990 the temple collapsed, and is currently under reconstruction.

Further north, in the Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir is found another temple of Lord Jagannath, in the village of Thial.

Local legend has it that the "original" Deities of Lord Jagannath, Balram and Subhadra are installed in this very small, beautiful hamlet of Thial. As narrated by the village elders, "a family which was popularly known as 'Vasudev family' lived in Ramnagar. This family had intense devotion for Lord Jagannath. The males of this family used to go regularly to Puri to take part in the famous Rathyatra every year. In those days, the idols of three deities were immersed in water after the Rath yatra after every 12 years. It is said that one of the Vasudev Brahmin decided to either catch hold of the idols being immersed or to die in the vast sea. He was able to catch hold of those idols and was also able to reach the seashore.

The jubilant members of the Vasudev family started their way back to Ramnagar. Since the means of transportation were very limited and far between, the distance from Pathankot to Ramnagar had to be traveled on foot, so the family started their journey chanting hymns and singing songs in praise of the Lord. It is said that when they reached village of Thial, they rested for sometime and quenched their thirst. After they got up and tried to pick the idols, it is said that they could not pick them up despite their best efforts. When they could not do so, they reconciled to the Godís will and left the idols there only. Due to their intense devotion to the Lord, this family then migrated to Thial after sometime and with the meager resources, an elderly and respectable lady named Maltu Shahni, who with the help of Sh. Mansukh Acharya installed the idols in a proper manner and made a small temple. The Vasudev family and its coming generations continued their devotion towards Lord and with the passage of time, the temple took its present shape. Today, the Thial Ratha Yatra starts on Janamasthmi day.

Elsewhere, the Ratha Yatra can be found several places in West Bengal. Near Calcutta, there is a famous Jagannath Temple at Serampore, in Mahesh, and their large Ratha Yatra is said by many to be second only to Puri's.

Hauz-Khas Ratha Yatra

In New Delhi, there is a Jagannath Temple in Hauz Khas, which has become a cultural center for Oriyas in Delhi. Thousands of devotees there celebrate the Ratha with a single chariot of modest size, which completes its procession in three hours. .

Of course, Hauz Khas is not the only Ratha Yatra in Delhi, nor even the first. As many as six Jagannath temples exist in Delhi today. There has been a Bhagawan Jagannathjiís Yatra in the Nai Sarak area of Old Delhi from as early as the 1940s, where the Lord's chariot is drawn by bulls.

Tyagraj Nagar Deities

Elsewhere, in Tyagraj Nagar, New Delhi, a newly-built Lord Jagannath temple at Prem Nagar comlex was erected in 1999.


Western Ratha Yatras outside of ISKCON

In the United States, particularly, we can see the growing popularity of the Ratha Yatra, which is surely modeled after the very successful ISKCON standard set down by Srila Prabhupada. Here, many temples serve an amalgamation of Deities and devotees of all stripes, and Lord Jagannath is also mercifully present.

Alabama Deities

In Huntsville, we find the Hindu Cultural Center of North Alabama, who has many installed Deities in their Sarvajana Mandir. Calling themselves the "Temple For All", worship is offered to Lord Jagannath, Sri Sri Radha-Krsna, Ram Parivar, Lord Venkateswara, Laksmi, Durga, Ganapati, Hanuman, Kali, Shiva, and Navagraha,

In Nashville, Tennessee, the Sri Ganesh Temple is the abode of Lord Jagannath, Radha-Krsna, Rama, Laksmi, Parvati, Shiva, Ganesh, and Subramanya.


Cleveland Ratha Yatra

In Cleveland, Ohio is found the Shiva Visnu Temple, who held their Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra in June of this year. Further north, in Detroit Michigan, the Jagannath Darsha Parashkti Temple is also home to Jagannath worship.

Lord Jagannath is also found at the Hindu Mandir of Minnesota.


Fremont, California

On the west coast, California's Fremont Hindu Temple puts on the Rath Yatra, offering worship in the temple to Lord Jagannatha, Balaji, Laksmi, Shivalinga, and Ram Darbar.

In Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, the Ekta Mandir Hindu Temple Society worships Lord Jagannatha, Mahalaksmi, Sri Ganesh, Sri Ram Parivar, Sri Durgaji and Sri Ayyappan, Sri Venkateshwara (Balaji), Shivji, Kartikeya and Vithal- Rakumai, Navagrahas, Anjaneya (Hanumanji), Gayatri Devi and Dattatreya

In Austin, Texas, Jagannath Ratha is celebrated at the Austin Hindu Temple.

And in Scottsdale, Arizona, the local Hindu Temple of Arizona, in association with the Arizona Oriya Association, held their annual Jagannath Ratha Yatra last month. Watch the video here.



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