ISKCON on Path of Much Needed Solution
BY: DEBABRATA MOHAPATRA
Nov 13, JAGANNATHA PURI, ORISSA Bowing to criticism for celebrating Rath Yatra on different dates, ISKCON is planning to "coincide" the celebration date akin to Puri, which is the real abode of Lord Jagannath.
Bhakti Purushottam Swami Maharaj, the commissioner of the ISKCON Governing Body said here on Thursday that Krishna followers will try to celebrate Rath Yatra on the same date as observed here at Puri. "We are trying our best to coincide the date with Puri. But it will take some time," said Purusottam Swami.
"If we fail to observe the festival on a single date, we are planning to change the Rath Yatra name and give some other names, like Jagannath Utsav, Jagannath Mahotsav, or Jagannath Parade," he said. "We have high regards for Jagannath culture and tradition. We have no intention to harm the tradition associated with Lord Jagannath," he added.
Chaos prevailed here on Tuesday when a section of priests alongside cultural enthusiasts demonstrated in front of the Jagannath Temple, protesting against the proposed celebration of Rath Yatra on different dates at various places in the country. The priests said Rath Yatra should be observed on asadha sukla dwitiya that falls in June and July. They even burnt the effigy of Srila Prabhupada, the Founder and Sampradaya Acarya of ISKCON.
"We have received letter from the Jagannath Temple administration to look into the matter. Recently we formed a committee and discussed the matter with the India Regional Governing Body of ISKCON. The committee gave proposals to change the name of the festival from Rath Yatra to something else. But it has not been decided yet," Purusottam Swami informed.
"Soon our committee will hold meetings with the Jagannath Temple administration where we will put forth the proposals before the shrine authorities. Also, we came to know that Rath Yatra can be celebrated on other dates as mentioned in scriptures. So we will talk on that matter as well," said Purusottam Swami, also the Chairman of the committee.
On the other hand, temple priests are not ready to buy the theory of the festival's "name change." "It will be like an eye-wash move by ISKCON. By giving names like Jagannath Utsav or Mahotsav they cannot take out the idols of Lord Jagannath on chariots and go on procession. The idols only come out of the temple on the Rath Yatra day. So if they bring the idols during Utsav or Mahotsav, then that will be considered as Rath Yatra. This is against our tradition," said Rabindranath Pratihari, a senior priest of Jagannath Temple.