An saintly gathering for an auspicious endeavor.
On March 24th, the Appearance Day of Lord Rama—God’s form as an ideal king—ISKCON guru Bhakti Charu Swami laid the sanctified corner stone of ISKCON Bhubaneswar’s forthcoming Jagannath temple called “Sri Gundicha” in a colorful ceremony, marking the beginning of construction work on the Temple.
From 7 to 9 o’clock in the morning, as various fire sacrifices to invoke auspiciousness were being performed, a pandal (tent) program was held, with many esteemed guests including Bhakti Charu Swami, ISKCON devotee Madhavananda Dasa, politician Dr. P.K. Patasani, Orissa Energy Minister Atanu Sabyasachi, and Samaj newspaper editor Dr. Sarat Mishra all addressing the audience.
In his speech, Bhakti Charu Swami spoke of how Srila Prabhupada’s early disciple in San Francisco, Malati Dasi, had found a toy form of Lord Jagannath at a market and had shown it to Prabhupada, who immediately requested her to bring the other two matching toys of the Lord’s brother Baladeva and sister Subhadra Devi.
Srila Prabhupada then directed Malati’s husband Shyamasundara to carve three large Deities based on the toy forms out of wood, before introducing the worship of Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra at ISKCON San Francisco. Later, Bhakti Charu Swami explained, Prabhupada had devotees organize the first ever Ratha Yatra in the West, in which devotees brought Lord Jagannath on a procession through thre streets of San Francisco using a decorated truck as chariot. From there, the festival spread to other Western countries and gained popularity.
Speaking about his attending many Ratha Yatra festivals in Western countries, Dr. P.K. Patasani praised Srila Prabhupada for inspiring young Westerners to give up meat-eating and intoxication, to embrace Vaishnavism and to spread devotion to Lord Jagannatha all over the world.
Next, Madhavananda Dasa gave a brief account of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s pastimes in Puri, Orissa, during the annual Ratha Yatra festival there.
In their speeches, all the other guests appreciated ISKCON’s efforts to organize Ratha Yatras and other festivals around the world.
ISKCON Bhubaneswar hopes to complete the Sri Gundicha temple project, which is expected to cost about 225,000 US Dollars, within one year.