opulent lunch Prasadam awaits us: really wonderful festival
style varieties of sabji, dhal, rice, and sweets. For
the afternoon and the next morning no plans are made.
The devotees may spend the time as they wish until it
is time to get together for the Ratha Yatra festival next
July 2005 - Jagannath Ratha Yatra, Puri, 3rd Day
is an experience I will never forget, especially because
of the circumstances I find myself in, quite unexpectedly.
Somehow or other, all the Westerners have some sickness
or ailment in the time we are in Puri, so I am pleased
to be 'proud' and able to help them out - but Krishna
tolerates no pride, and the day of the Ratha Yatra I wake
up with terrible stomach problems. The night before we
took Jagannath Prasadam (His first 'proper' meals since
He has been 'ill') so I guess the purification process
is taking place!
feel very weak and not sure my stomach will be pacified
in time. I think of nothing except lying where I have
been all day, closing my eyes, and praying to Srila Gurudev
for some mercy. "Alone I am nothing, I have no
strength by myself. Only by Your divine mercy may I go
see Lord Jagannath, for whom I have been yearning for
At around 1:30pm, I go to the nat mandir, and as I stand
there while the kirttan begins, my knees feel like jelly
from fasting, dehydration and the stress my body has just
undergone. I feel like I will not survive the crowd, but
undeterred I follow, one footstep after another, and as
we walk, the blood flows into my head and I feel a little
better. However I still don't have enough energy to chant.
Still I am grateful that I can somehow go and see Lord
Jagannath's lotus eyes and sweet smiling face.
have come so close and miss it is not even a consideration.
I joke that if I will have to be carried away on a stretcher,
then I will admit defeat. Although my body is battered,
I have no fever and my psychological state is fine! Gurudev
must have heard my prayers though, because from this moment,
my stomach problem subsides completely and I only have
to deal with a little weakness.
We take all back streets to the Jagannath Temple, on to
about half-way towards Gundicha. It appears quite manageable
so far, until we take a side-street out into the main
road, right into the midst of it, a plunge into a sea
of people. Us women are more or less ushered towards the
middle of the group, with the men protecting as we move
like a shoal of fish protecting each other in that immense