How did Lord Jagannath reach Morcellement St André?
The first large Mauritian Deities of Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Maharani used to stay at the Sri Sri Radha Golokananda Mandir of Phoenix. They were Utsav Deities, that is, They would go out on festivals but were not worshipped on a daily basis as the Deities in a temple. In year 2002, after the annual Ratha Yatra at Terre Rouge, They were temporarily brought to Sri Sri Krsna Balaram Mandir of Bon Accueil. They were kept on the first floor of the Temple and devotees used to worship Them with some bhoga and small arati on a daily basis.
At that time, some devotees thought that the Deities could be better served if They were worshipped at a devotee’s house. Madan Gopal Das and his wife, Priya Sakhi Dasi of Bois Rouge (Pamplemousses) had a large and strong altar made of concrete at their house. Thus, they were proposed to worship the Deities at their house which they readily accepted.
The couple were happy to worship the Deities at their place. But after several weeks devotees from the Phoenix temple as per the decision of their management requested for the Deities for the Krsna Janmasthami celebration. The Deities did not again return to Madan Gopal Das house but rather stayed at the Phoenix Temple.
After Sri Krsna Janmasthami, Swetadwipa Prabhu, at the Sri Sri Krsna Balaram Mandir, was somehow inspired to have another set of Deities for Mauritius. The latter consulted with other devotees including Makhan Chor Prabhu and the idea was accepted. The task was now to look for a neem tree to be used for the Deities. Where to find a neem tree owner who would agree to cut his tree for selling to the devotees? It seemed to be a very difficult task. But after some initial tries two tree owners simultaneously decided to give their tree wood – one of them in the North of Mauritius was finally selected. One devotee offered to bring his electric saw for free and another devotee offered to provide a 2 X 2 van for transport of the wood. It was brought at L’Avenir at Bhakta Bam’s workshop for cutting and polishing. Makhan Chor Prabhu from Orissa, voluntarily agreed to do the carving and painting of Their Lordships.
In November 2003, the painting was completed and the Deities were brought to the first Ratha Yatra held in the east of Mauritius. Since Madan Gopal Das and Priya Sakhi Dasi were abroad in India when the painting of the Deities were completed, They were not brought at Their residence. By the Lord’s arrangement and because the painting was carried out while the neem wood was not completely dried, cracks started to appear in the wood. The paint on the Deities also started to come out. All the paint was thus removed from the body of Deities and They were again polished.
After Madan Gopal Das and Priya Sakhi Dasi returned from India they brought the unpainted Deities at their place for the wood to dry and to fill in the cracks. It took around one year for the Deity wood to dry. Since Makhan Chor Prabhu was not in Mauritius, they proposed Mukunda Prabhu and his good wife Radha Jivani Mataji, both artists from Russia to do the paintings. The latter said that there was a need for more time for the Deities’ wood to be dried. While choosing the form of the Lord to paint, Priya Sakhi dasi was inspired to choose the form of Lord Jagannath of Sri Rangam Who was worshipped by Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, some 500 years ago. For more details on the pastimes of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu with the Deities of Sri Rangam, click here
The Deities in Mauritius as painted in 2006
The Deities of Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Maharani as worshipped by Lord Sri chaitanya Mahaprabhu at Sri Rangam
The Deities were ready in early 2006. Since Madan Gopal Das and Priya Sakhi Dasi were now more engaged at the Centre which was opened at Morcellement St André in September 2005, they thought that it would be better to bring the Deities at the Centre for a better worship rather than at their place. In this way Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra Maharani were installed at the Centre on 31 May 2006.
The Annual Ratha Yatra was held that year from Plaine des Papayes to Morcellement St André. As per the Lord’s wish, some devotees expressed their dissatisfaction of the painting of the Lord. They preferred Lord Jagannath with large round eyes. The Deities did not thus participate in the annual Ratha Yatra held in year 2007. Meanwhile, Makhan Chor Prabhu had returned to Mauritius and he was asked to repaint the form of The Deities. This time the forms of the Deities selected were that of Rajapur. Please see our page on Pastimes of the Lord at Rajapur.