Hare Krishna, everyone!
I attended the ISKCON Ratha Yatra festival in Dubai today. It was taking place in the Sindhi Ceremonial Hall in Bur Dubai. Before this, my grandmother and I went to the Bur Dubai Sinaji mandir. Even there they had made a special chariot for Ratha Yatra. The pujari or head priest was pulling the chariot forwards and backwards throughout the aarti ceremony.
The ISKCON Ratha Yatra was scheduled to begin at 8pm. So my grandmother and I left the Bur Dubai mandir to make our way towards the Sindhi Ceremonial Hall. All the way there, I was praying to Lord Jagganath. It was getting late. I needed to be there, I couldn’t miss the beginning. Absolutely not. I didn’t want to be a second late. Gates opened at 7 pm but the Ratha Yatra was supposed to start at 8 pm sharp.
“Lord Jagganath, wait for me. WAIT FOR ME!”
We reached at around 8:05 pm. The curtains were still closed.
Phew. He waited. Thank You, Jagganath 🙂
We sat there, listening to the kirtan. At first, I thought they were playing a track. Later I realized there were kirtaniyas performing live. I was in shock. It sounded so good! Everyone waited in anticipation for the curtains to be drawn. When the moment came, lots of “oohs” and “aahs” were let out from the audience. It was a breath-taking sight. The deities looked wonderful.
There was a lecture about how Lord Jagannath came to be in this form. Prabhuji narrated a few stories and shared some insight on how Ratha Yatra is celebrated in Orissa, Bengal. The lecture was good, but I couldn’t pay attention, unfortunately. Because of some women around me who were sitting and talking amongst themselves. They weren’t even taking care of their kids. Kids were running around and playing. It was rather irritating and distracting. After the lecture, the pulling of the chariot began. Everyone got the chance to pull the chariots in batches. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to do so. There was too much of a crowd and it left me feeling disappointed. I waited for a while, and then I gave up, thinking if Jagganath wanted me to pull the chariot, I would. Looks like He had other plans for me. So perhaps next time I will get to do some service.
The devotees there were having a ball though. Everyone was singing and dancing and jumping, screaming ‘Haribol!’ It was really nice to watch. It was amazing being there. They felt like family even though I didn’t know everyone.
My grandmother and I went up to the Vaishno Devi celebration in the same building. Then we left. We went to Chappan Bhog and I’m sorry to say, I was in a rather sour mood. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because of the weather. I wasn’t speaking very politely and I wasn’t very keen on buying anything. I really regret being such a sourpuss now. We did buy samosas though. Then we left. We were waiting outside and the heat started to take its toll on me. I started seeing spots and I was almost blacking out. I was sweating profusely and feeling terribly sick. I ran back to Chappan Bhog.
Krishna Krishna Krishna
I opened the door and sat down at the table. I ordered a Rasmalai. The shopkeeper was nice. He offered to get me a panadol, which I politely refused. I was in seeking shelter in the same place that I was so irritated in before. A Hare Krishna entered Chappan Bhog then. He was leaving right around the time my parents came to pick us up. He held the door open for my grandmother and me, for which I am eternally grateful. I had things to carry and I was in a hurry since my parents came and I just picked up all the stuff. I was wondering how we would go out. Should have known that Krishna would send someone to help us. I think I really got lucky. The shopkeeper said he closes at 10 pm. It was 10:30. He was already packing up. Mercy? I think so.
I am grateful that I got to attend this Ratha Yatra festival. I am grateful I got to take my grandmother with me. I have been waiting to take her to an ISKCON festival since forever. I’m glad I got this opportunity. I only pray that everyone gets to experience the Lord’s mercy in their lives.