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The Opet Festival of Ancient Egypt: Has it been derived from the Jagannatha Rathyatra of Puri, India? (cont.)
By Bibhu Dev Misra (IIT, IIM)

As per Vedic accounts, the festival of Rathayatra has been celebrated in India for thousands of years, although the current Temple of Jagannath only dates from the 12th century CE. The festival has been mentioned in multiple Puranas, which are Vedic historical documents of unknown antiquity. The Skanda Purana states that the first Jagannath Temple was established in Puri in the Krita Yuga, which, as per the currently accepted Yuga Cycle doctrines, began at around 10,900 BC. Since Jagannath refers to Vishnu i.e. the Lord of the Universe, he was worshipped in different forms in the different Yugas. In the Kali Yuga he is worshipped in the form of Krishna. The Skanda Purana also specifies the date of the Rathyatra festival. In many other Vedic documents such as the Narada Purana, Padma Purana and the Ramayana, the virtues of worshipping Jagannath have been extolled. The festival is, therefore, indubitably Vedic in origin.

That would imply that this ancient festival, along with the cult of Krishna, Balaram and Subhadra was transferred from India to Egypt, sometime prior to 2000 BC!

That is a phenomenal idea. Although we know that Indian traders had extensive trade relations with the first Pharaohs of dynastic Egypt in 3000 BC, and sold them cotton, muslin, spices, gold and ivory, such a major influence of India on Egyptian religious systems has not been explicitly identified by historians till now. Some scholars have, however, pointed out the similarity between the culture of Egypt and Eastern India. Peter Von Bohlen, a German Indologist, mentioned that there are elements of folk art, language, place names and rural culture of Bengal (the state adjacent to Orissa and included in it in ancient times) which have an affinity with their Egyptian counterparts. For instance, even now the people of Orissa use the word ‘Kaa’ to refer to a ‘close friend’ or a ‘spiritually connected friend’. However, when you consider the fact that an entire patheon along with associated ceremonies and rituals seems to have been exported to Egypt from India, it appears that the Pharaohs of Egypt and the Emperors of India must have maintained very close relations since ancient times. This ‘pantheon’ transfer would have been possible only through express royal patronage. But when and why did this happen? Who all were involved? Was this also accompanied by a transfer of armed forces which resulted in the reunification of entire Egypt under the Pharaohs? History provides us with no answers.

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