The gay pride parade hit the streets here just two weeks ago and today was followed by Jaga Pride. “Jaga” refers to Jaganntha meaning “Lord of the Universe” and although devotees of Krishna cannot monopolize the lord of such colossal real estate, someone is devotionally tending to him.
Jagannatha is a large wooden image of Krishna with a happy face and penetrating eyes. He does with pride sit a top a large chariot resembling a temple on wheels. With this arrangement he does not walk but employs himself in a most transcendental gawk. He has two other eaves-dropping friends who are more like a royal companions parade in line with their brother, Jaganatha.
The siblings also made of wood and very smartly painted, are Baladeva and Subhadra. Each sits upon their own chariot to re-enact a two-thousand year old event, a chariot pulling procession copied from the procession at Puri, India. The British were taken by a storm when they first saw the massive procession conducted by Brahmins, the heads of what was considered something like savage pageantry and a display of big-time idolatry.
Perhaps there was a pinch of pride in the attitudes at the time. Experience tells that even Brahmins can be a little puffed-up at times.
In any event I remember telling one of our former mayors of the city, Barbara Hall, that India claims this two thousand year old program. She responded by saying that it was remarkable. “Toronto is only two hundred years old.”
Barbara was great. She took a coconut along with select dignitaries and smashed them one-by-one on the street to break it. She was simply following tradition here, an inauguration of the ceremony, an act of service or humility.
Also part of customary tradition is the king of Orissa’s sweeping the street just prior to the chariots rolling down. Imagine that! The epitome of pride, a king, takes to the modest role of sweeping the dusty streets of Puri.
That’s anti-pride stuff! That is inspirational.