Jaya Jagannatha!Merciful Lord Jagannatha’s processional chariot festival

Maisnam Ibohal Singh
The merciful Lord of the Universe, Lord Jagannatha’s Ratha Yatra Mahotsav 2024, will be observed at ISKCON Manipur, Sangaiprou Airport Road and Sri Sri Govindaji and other places of Manipur on the very auspicious days of 8th & 16th July 2024, with the Deities Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Subhadra Rani taking Their respective asanas in the beautifully decorated Ratha. The processional Chariot of the Lords would start around 1.00 p.m. after necessary maha-arati, offering of fruits, camphor lamps, flowers etc. are completed.
Lord Jagannatha is the most merciful and compassionate God in the universe. Any person whether a Christian or a Muslim or any adherent of a sect or even an outcast participating in the festival either interestingly or uninteresting without any idea of the festival is said to be benefited. Anyone wishing for His causeless mercy can touch any part of His transcendental body during the chariot procession. Though He is without hands and feet as per His pastimes, He accepts any offering and He is walking to bestow blessings upon the people. Though He is decorated with various ornaments, He is already the ornament of all ornaments. The Vaishnavas do worship the Lord as Shri Shri Shyamasundara, the Supreme Personality of Godhead holding a flute with the effulgent body of sky bluish colour bending on knees, waist and neck. Lord Jagannatha is indeed Lord Krishna Himself displaying one of His pastimes.
These days, the culture and worship of Lord Jagannatha, which was started since the 15th century onwards in the East, is now seen in the West too. The worship of Lord Jagannatha is now performed in many places: Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Florence, New York, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Guadalajara, Sao Paulo, Lima, Barcelona, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Christchurch, Moscow, Keiv, Durban, Mauritius, Tokyo, Hong Kong and a host of other places around the world. What caused this widespread spiritual awakening, and why have foreigners taken interest in an ancient Indian religion?
The history of foreign interest can be traced back to the Golden Avatara, Shri Caitanya Mahaprabhu. He inaugurated the sankirtana movement, and desired that Lord Krishna’s holy name be chanted in every town and village on earth. Many Vaisnava devotees have assisted the Lord in this mission, but by examining the lives of three particular devotees we can better understand how this cultural movement spread so far and wide in recent times.
We, the people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions such as Christianity, Islam, Meitei Laining Lup, Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, Tingkao Raghwang, Hindu Vaishnavism, and many more, and other faiths : Judaism, Taoism, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Unitarianism and Native Spirituality etc, etc. Including the indigenous traditions are undoubtedly the children of one supreme God, whom we worship in different names and descriptions. Indeed, we have only one religion i.e. “Love of God and Serve Him, and Abide by the Laws of God”.
Our cosmos is one whole family with ourselves as the children of the Almighty God. We should together pray that the Supreme spirit, the Indweller of all living beings may purify our hearts with His divine virtues and bestow the spiritual strength to control our minds and senses and free us from the evil qualities, and ultimately, with His causeless mercy, go to His spiritual world, Sanatana dham.
What we should remember in the age of Kali is the highest message of religious and spiritual wisdom: the human form of life is a matchless gift of God, and therefore we should utilize to perfect our human consciousness and realize the real purpose and meaning of life. Spirituality transcends all walls of separation between all diverse communities despite differences in religions, traditions, cultures, civilizations, languages. Our religious and spiritual lives with diverse unique traditions could help guide us to build our different communities rather than dividing us. We must be united for any conflict resolutions and reconciliations. We should therefore jointly rejoice with Unity in Diversity, and strive for Peace and Harmony by living together as the children of a common spiritual family. The world is one family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam).  Maha Upanishad.
With this background, let the peace efforts be channelled in the right direction. Let us promote enduring, indeed daily interfaith cooperation, and create the cultures of Peace, Justice, and Healing, and also avoid religiously motivated violence.
God has a dream. God has a dream of a world that is different, a world in which you and I care for one another because we belong in one family – Desmond Tutu (Nobel Laureate in Peace). So, let us help one another to realize this Dream.
As for the human family, the God of my understanding, a gentle and kind Father, must weep as He looks down on the children He created, for the family He loves is indeed very ill.. “The Human Family”, born with intelligence and self will, seems sadly lacking in the areas the Creator wanted us to excel in compassion, love of one another, brotherhood, forgiveness and understanding”. Betty Williams, Nobel Laureate in Peace, Ireland
May we join together in celebrating the Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannatha, the most merciful Lord of the universe.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura says, “...Truth is eternal and is never injured but for a while by ignorance”. May that Jagannatha Swami be the object of my (our) vision (Shri Jagannathastakam). May peace prevail on Earth!
Hare Krishna!