Devotion in action: Serving the Lord at Rath Yatra

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | July 05, 2024 IST

Bratati Baral

The renowned Rath Yatra in Odisha's Puri attracts multitudes of devotees from around the world. People flock to the pilgrim town with deep reverence for Lord Jagannath, eager to catch a glimpse of their beloved deity on the grand chariot. Amidst the bustling crowd, many devotees come not just to witness but also to serve during the Rath Yatra. Some entertain the gathered throngs with performances near the chariot, while others find spiritual fulfillment in serving the lord. Ahead of the Rath Yatra, Prameya English speaks with devoted individuals who make it a point to visit Puri every year for this auspicious occasion.

Narayana Pandey, a seasoned Odissi dancer and Guru, performs Odissi dance during every occasion related to the trinity. Having devoted himself to this service for three decades, he emphasizes that Goti Pua dance and Odissi originate from the culture of Lord Jagannath. His love for Lord Jagannath surpasses all other affections. Each year, he accompanies his disciples to perform in front of the chariot during the Rath Yatra, but his devotion extends beyond this festival; it is a lifelong commitment.

"For over 30 years, I have dedicated myself to performing for the Lord, and I will continue to do so as long as I live. I have danced in many places throughout my life, but performing before the Lord amidst a gathering of over a million people is truly special. It fills my heart with a unique sensation, and I never tire of it. I find profound fulfillment in delving deep into devotion. Dancing for the Lord under the open sky holds its own enchantment. The darshan (sight) of the Lord instills in me the belief that we are all creations of the same divine being, transcending differences of caste, creed, gender, age, or religion.

Kumar Bhimsen, a skilled Odissi dancer from Puri, performs during the Rathyatra festival with a dedication that spans two decades. He emphasizes the significance of dance as a crucial element of the festivities, tracing its origins nearly 1,000 years back to Maharis (devadasis) who performed exclusively for Lord Jagannath at the Puri temple. As the dance form emerged beyond the temple, Gotipuas (young male dancers in female attire) were pioneers in showcasing Odissi publicly.

"Dance is a profound expression of devotion to Lord Jagannath, a practice I have faithfully upheld for twenty years. Lord Jagannath epitomizes boundless love that unites his devotees. Witnessing others dance before Him inspired me to pursue dance myself. I feel a deep spiritual connection when I contribute during this occasion; there is no bond more sacred or beautiful. This connection empowers me to perform in His presence. Dance serves as my pathway to draw nearer to the Lord, said Bhimsen."

"Suna Gosain, a devout follower of Lord Jagannath, has been serving the deities for decades. At 75 years old, she brings flowers for the Lord during the Rath Yatra. 

“This tradition of service has been a part of my family for generations. I have witnessed my father and grandfathers perform this duty with devotion. Our dedication to the Lord compels us to continue this service without hesitation. During the yatra, I meticulously create garlands using various flowers for the Lord. He is everything to me, and serving Him is not merely a duty assigned by the administration; it is an act of deep love and devotion. Even at this age, I have not faltered in my commitment, and I intend to continue serving until my last breath," says the dedicated servitor.

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