“As the entire world is battling a horrendous pandemic, it is spirituality and faith in Lord Jagannatha, who is the Saguna Saakaara manifestation of Paramatma in this Kali Yuga, that will help sustain mankind. Not even a blade of grass moves without the grace of the Lord – so it is possible that this pandemic is just a timely wake-up call for humanity to reconsider the rampant materialism of the past few centuries and focus on reconnecting with divinity, with compassion towards all. Let us reconnect with Paramatma, who took the tangible form of Mahaprabhu Jagannatha to perform seva and activities like an ordinary manushya during this Kali Yuga.”
This was the message of Puri Gajapati Maharaja Shri Dibyasingha Deb to devotees from across the world gathered virtually to commemorate the First Anniversary of the Shree Jagannatha Society United Kingdom (SJS UK) which was celebrated on the auspicious Akshaya Trithiya day and marked as Sankalp Divas.
SJS UK is a London based charity and its mission is to spread Shree Jagannatha culture across UK and Europe and construct a majestic Shree Jagannatha Temple in London that will become the epicentre of Jagannatha Culture in Europe. The 1st Phase of temple construction with ample parking space is expected to be completed by 2024 at an estimated cost of £5 million.
The virtual event was graced by several spiritual eminences and dignitaries from India and UK. This was well attended by Jagannatha devotees from across the world. The meeting opened with a minute’s silence in memory of people who lost their lives in the pandemic across the globe and chanting of the Maha Mrutyunjaya Mantra by Brahmacharini Nandana Ji of Arsha Dipa UK.
Welcoming the gathering, Dr Prakash Dey, Secretary SJS UK provided an overview of the progress made by the Trust to achieve its objective and its active efforts to acquire a suitable plot of land for the temple by the end of 2021.
Bhakta Panda, Treasurer SJS UK delivered an update on the financials and humanitarian activities. He also provided update on SJS UK & its partner organisations’ efforts for Covid-19 relief to rural India in the western districts of Odisha state, starting from helping to set up Oxygen Banks to supplying Pulse Oximeters and Infrared Thermometers.
The gathered devotees were addressed by several eminent spiritual personalities. The ‘Role of Temples in Spiritual Sadhana’ was explained by Swami Madhavanand Saraswati ji, Acharya of Chinmaya Mission, Patiala, who also explained how Paramaatma is Nirguna (natureless) and Niraakar (formless). Brahmarishi Mohanji of the Mohanji Foundation released a special commemorative edition of the SJS UK Newsletter, and expounded that Humanity is the best religion, kindness is the foremost dharma, and we need to strive for inner silence to realise the Lord Jagannatha in each one of us.
Bhagwan Panda from the Shree Jagannatha Chintana & Chetana Worldwide explained the vision of the organisation to the audience.
Prominent film stars from the Odisha film industry, Sabyasachi Mishra and Archita Sahoo were thrilled to join the celebrations and recounted their association with SJS UK from the very beginning, and the combined charitable activities undertaken during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Amish Tripathi, eminent author and currently Director of Nehru Centre, London reminded the congregation that since time immemorial, temples were our centres of learning, culture, dance, art, spirituality and community service.
CB Patel, Publisher/Editor of Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar recounted the establishment of the first Hindu temple in London and the celebration of the Rath Yatra by ISKCON in London. He was certain that the temple will become a heritage site across Europe for all religious persuasions.
Loknath Mishra, MD & CEO ICICI Bank UK and an advisor to SJS UK opined that Lord Jagannatha is the Universal God – cutting across barriers of language, faith, race, nationality, and language. He was confident that the temple will be for all the people from across the world, particularly the local population.
Trupti Patel, President, Hindu Forum Britain (HFB), was thrilled that with the establishment of the Shree Jagannatha Temple in London, UK would soon have a representation of all the holy Chaar Dhaams. The arrival of the Bhagwan will usher in a great joy to the UK and assured full support of HFB in this.
Lord Rami Ranger, CBE, disclosed the association of Guru Nanak Dev ji with Prabhu Jagannatha by referencing the beautiful hymn, Gagan Mein Thaal, composed by the Guru after his visit to the Jagannatha Temple in Puri.
The event saw mellifluous devotional bhajans performed by accomplished UK based singers Mausumi Mishra and Priti Madhab Padhy. A beautiful Odissi dance program reflecting the importance of Akshaya Trithiya was organised by Hiranya Mohanty and performed by Kabita Mohanty of Nrityabhinaya Dance Academy, Delhi. The whole event was expertly compered by Subhashree Thottungal, Pragyan Ipsita Devi, and Sukanta Sahu, SJS UK Trustee, and their spiritual insights enlivened the proceedings.
Dr Sahadev Swain, Chairperson SJS UK presented a short video on the artistic vision of the proposed Shree Jagannatha Mandir London Temple Complex. Proposing the Vote of Thanks, he pledged that the Trustees and Members of SJS UK will not rest until the Temple is completed, and invited Shree Jagannatha devotees from across the world to join this journey and contribute to the realisation of this dream.
Shree Jagannatha Society, United Kingdom is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation registered with the Charity Commission England and Wales (Registration No. 1191544). Further details are available on the website https://www.jagannathtemple.org.uk/.