Ever since the pandemic, it has been extremely difficult for us to come together and be in association of devotees and to celebrate the various occasions that we otherwise did with so much of grandeur. Nevertheless, we have been trying our best to bring to you every celebration in the best possible way. We felt that even this year, we wouldn't be able to have a Ratha Yatra like we usually did, but Lord Jagannath had other plans. 
Although the whole intention of Ratha Yatra is that everyone gets the Darshan of the Lords, we decided on having a small ceremony, with just a few devotees, within the ashram area, since the pandemic is still prevalent. We decided to utilise the old Ratha from our morjim centre. But to our disappointment, we were informed that the old Ratha was damaged due to rains and hence couldn't be used.

Before long, one of our ardent devotee, Pradeep Chodankar Prabhu, from Mapusa came to our rescue like a knight in shining armour. During his visit to the ashram, he learned about our situation and without a second thought offered to help us by building a new Ratha for Their Lordships. His family and many other devotees and well-wishers came together and contributed to give us an elegant, new handcrafted Ratha. If you haven't already watched, please do watch the video and the pictures to see the beautifully designed and painted Ratha. It clearly portrays the love and devotion to our beloved Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladev and Maiya Subhadra from Their honest devotees.

With the Ratha arranged we had nothing else to worry about, except may be the weather. But on the day of the Ratha Yatra, Lord Jagannath had managed to take care of that too. Mostly clear skies and maybe a drizzle of rain every now and then. Which was good enough for us.

On the day of Yatra, the Ratha, adorned with flowers and Their Lordships mounted on it, were ready to be chauffeured around our land. But on the last moment, we thought that the wheels of the Ratha may not be be able to manoeuvre well through the soft soil of the fields. So we finally decided to take the Ratha over the tarred road for better stability. Even though we planned to avoid going on the road because of not having permission for the procession, Lord Jagannath wanted to go on the main road. He showed us that He is the master who makes all plans. We covered a decent length around the village and back. In this way, the Lord had also managed to give his Darshan to all the people.

Life of a devotee is like this. One obstacle after another. It just goes to show that, these obstacles are in place for a reason. For us to try, to learn and to surrender to His will. Our illusion is that we think we can control what happens in our lives. But clearly, we don't. When faced with a hurdle, best is to let the Lord take control of it. Inspite of all these difficulties, the Ratha Yatra took place in a grand fashion. It is Lord Jagannath's Lila that we witnessed during this Rath Yatra.

Written by Trisha Chodanker.

Story narrated by Achyut Gopal Das.


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