Sri Jagannath Ratha Yatra
Diary 4-10 July 2005 by Malini Devi Dasi

In the morning we stop briefly about four times. Apparently the first time was at another small lake where some people took bath. I say apparently, because I have only heard but have no memory of this. Unashamedly I declare that this was the only half-hour's peaceful rest I'd had all night.

The next stop is shortly after, at a chai stall. More showers and toilets are available but I only superficially refreshed, looking forward to reaching the Math's comfortable facilities. I'd received a nasty gash near my right ankle while pulling Jagannath's car so I medicated it with some iodine solution and antibacterial powder to dry it out - and soon I look up to find tens of people sticking their legs out before me to show a different array of cuts and knotches all incurred during the Ratha Yatra. Sripad Acharyya Maharaj is famous to be the 'doctor' with his magic tablet medicine box, and here now I feel like a nurse!

The Tata Sumo that had been travelling with us has disappeared since last night. We finally find it waiting at an intersection just near Kolkata. It had been there for one and a half hours, waiting in order to change some passengers from car to bus and vice versa since it is heading towards our Dum Dum Park Temple whereas we will head directly to Nabadwip on another road.

The devotees visit Konarak Sun Temple on the way back from Puri to Nabadwip.

A little later we stop in a small village where Sripad Acharyya Maharaj does potato collection prior to each Gaura Purnima festival time, and here we have a muri, banana and samosa breakfast on a leaf plate while still seated on the bus.... Only an hour left to go!

As we wind through Nabadwip area's towns, which all look the same to me, anticipation grows. And sweet relief washes through my tired body when we turn a corner and I see our Math, ever glorious, welcoming us home - and just in time for lunch Prasadam!

First of all, however, I go pay dandevats to the Deities from a little distance (I feel too dirty from the journey, and can't wait to take bath!) and to Mahananda Prabhu to tell that we are safely back.

My jelly legs somehow carry me to the Prasadam Hall, and after honouring Prasadam, like all the others, I am very relieved to lie in a horizontal position and sleep for a few hours.

By evening the other devotees are asking about Puri Dham and the Ratha Yatra, and we happily share our experiences. Then Sandhya Arati, kirttan and so on. The regular programme of Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip, draws us back into the moment - the regulated bhajan and bhakti seva we practise for the pleasure of our Gurudev and our sweet Lord.

The Jagannath Puri bus pilgrimage was an unforgettable experience, I am very happy to have experienced it fully, from beginning to end. The whole experience leaves my devotional mood revitalised and recharged.

Tomorrow, though, is another day, and although I will carry the nourishment I have received from this experience within my heart, I cannot wallow in it as every day there is more service to be done, and more practise... makes perfect.

Imperfect as I am, I hope I have not caused any offences in the process of preparing this diary to share with you, which I hope may have enabled you to also participate in some way in this pilgrimage. My wish is to make Srila Gududev and His devotees happy.

Hari Bol!

mayi bhaktir hi bhutanam
amrtatvaya kalpate
distya yad asin mat-sneho
bhavatinam mad-apanah

"Lord Sri Krsna said: 'Devotional service unto Me is the only way to attain Me. My dear gopis, whatever love and affection you have attained for Me by good fortune is the only reason for My returning to you.' "
(Madhya 13.160)

Credits: Art pictures and translation of Sri Chaitanya Charitamrta from the one-volume edition published by Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.

Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Math, Nabadwip
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