Rhodes Island: The smallest state of USA; Rhodes Island celebrated 5th Rath Yatra Festival of Lord Jagannath with much glory and grandeur in the premises of Hindu Temple at Warwick. The religious rituals like worshipping, homo and Mangala Arati were performed before the Idols in the morning by the main priest Somnath Shastri.
The whole ambience of the Temple was agog with pious and spiritual fervour. At about 11.30 a.m. four Deities were taken in Pahandi procession to the aesthetically and colourfully decked up 15 feet high chariot. The decoration of the chariot was beautifully and meticulously done by Sourav Mishra, Saroj Behera, Pankaj Panda, Pritam Mishra, Chandra Nayak, Biswa Patnaik, Digvijay Mohapatra and Subhransu Mohanty. Floral ornamentation of the chariot was splendidly undertaken by Shradha Nayak, Pragyana Behera and Ranjitha Behera.
The entire atmosphere got reverberated with the chanting of hymns, roaring of slogans like Hari Bol and Jai Jagannath, blowing off conch and playing of musical instruments such as Ghanta, Mardala, Jhanja and Mrudanga. The scenery of Pahandi Bije of Goddess Subhadra conducted exclusively by ladies was most heart touching and memorable.
This Year’s Rath Yatra evoked an unusual enthusiasm and extraordinary enchantments among the spectators gathered to perform the most sacred act of having a holy glimpse of Gods and Goddess on board the chariot. Apart from devotees from Rhodes Island, Odia and non Odia families from far off places like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire numbering around 300 also descended to witness the ceremony.
The senior member of the Board of Directors of Hindu Temple, Mahesh Patel performed the traditional service of sweeping before the chariots called Chhera Pahanra. At 1.00 p.m. amidst the devotional renderings of Kirtan by ISKCON devotees from Indian Heritage Foundation, the chariot was pulled around the perimeter of the temple compound and then was taken back to the premises of the Temple.
The deities were offered Prasad prepared in the style of Ananda Bazar of Puri by volunteers like Babita Mohanty, Munmun Das,Bishnu Priya Bal, Tapanwita Routray, Saumyashree Dash, Kalpana Mohanty, Mani Mahapatra and Lina Routray. The Delicious Prasad was later parcated by the devotees assembled on the occasion. There was a prediction by metrological Department that the Island state would be devastated by Rain and thunderstorm during the Rath Yatra day. But by the grace of the Biggest God of the Cosmos miracle happened. The Car festival witnessed a charming weather and went off without having any obstruction whatsoever.
The highlight of the ceremony include the offering of the Book entitled “The Journey of Rhodes Island’s Car Festival” and the article “Unbound Lord Jagannath” written by the main organiser Akshay Mohanty at the Lotus Feet of Lord of the Universe on the Nandighosh chariot in Puri.
A colourful cultural jamboori consisting of scintillating dance performances in Odissi and Bharatnatyam styles and recital of devotional songs dedicated to Lord Jagannath were also presented during the Mega Event. The cultural session was ably coordinated and moderated by Akansha Patnaik and Leezalin Mishra. Distinguished dignitary, who graced the Festival include Sadananda Dasa of Indian Heritage Foundation. The entire arrangement was well managed and neatly executed by World Odisha Society’s International Co -ordinator Akshay Mohanty and former President of Odisha Society of New England Debdutta Behera.