New Delhi, September 4, 2021: Hindu Society Harare (HSH) in Zimbabwe will reportedly organize “Rath Yatra” (chariot procession) through Harare streets on September five. As part of “Nand Mahotsav” festivities, this procession will start from Ridgeview Shree Omkar Mandir (temple) on Anson Road after “Kesar Snan” rituals and end in Shree Omkar Mandir on Cameron Street; where bhajans, thaal, arti, prasad will be held. Participants need to show the guard their vaccination card at the point of entry, per the announcement.
Meanwhile, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauded efforts of the organizers and community to realize various wonderful festivals throughout the year, exhibiting the richness of Hinduism. Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that it was important to pass on Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to coming generations amidst so many distractions in the consumerist society. Zed stressed that instead of running after materialism; we should focus on inner search and realization of self and work towards achieving moksh (liberation), which was the goal of Hinduism. The original Ratha Yatra is held on a grand scale in Puri (Odisha, India), where the presiding deities of Shree Mandira—Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra—with celestial wheel Sudarsana are driven on the chariots to about two miles north Gundicha temple in an elaborate ritual procession, where the huge colorfully decorated chariots are drawn by thousands of devotees. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode in Shree Mandira. A glimpse of Lord Jagannatha on the chariot is considered to be highly auspicious and even a touch of the chariot is believed to yield benefits equivalent to several pious deeds. Many poets have written its glories.
Rajan Zed points out that ancient Hindu text Katha Upanishad talks about the concept of chariot, where soul is said to be the deity, body is the chariot, and intellect the charioteer. Skanda Purana glorifies Ratha Yatra’s sanctity. Two Hindu temples in Harare, run by HSH, which had reportedly been closed for months due to COVID-19, have recently reopened; but entry is restricted for community members “who have had both doses of COVID 19 vaccination”. Cameron Street Shree Omkar Mandir celebrated 90th anniversary in February 2019, while 25th anniversary of Ridgeview Shree Omkar Mandir was observed in 2017. HSH “intends to publish a written record” of the hundred years of “community’s existence in Zimbabwe”. In the pre-COVID-19 times, HSH reportedly had been conducting various bhajan events, twice-weekly yoga classes, Hindi lessons, cultural/social activities; organized daily aarti at both the temples with Havan on Sundays; and offered funeral assistance for bereaved families; etc.; besides running Mahila Mandal, Shishu Mandal and Yuvak Mandal. HSH has also been running various schools—Westridge High School, Westridge Primary School, Gujarati School. Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about 1.2 billion adherents.