First Rathayatra and Jail Preaching in Nellore (AP, INDIA)
By Vrajendranandan Das
Dear Maharajs/ Prabhus
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
ISKCON Nellore organized its first Lord Jagannath Rathayatra on the 21st Jan 2012, which was very successful. Srila Prabhupada visited Nellore from Jan 3-8th in the year 1976 and personally installed the foundation stone there. By the blessings of Srila Prabhupada and all the Vaishnavas, His Holiness Sukhadev Maharaj has built a nice temple in Nellore.
HH. Bhanu Swami Maharaj (GBC), HG Revatiraman Prabhu (TP Tirupati temple & zonal secretary), HG Shankhadhari Prabhu (TP Madurai & zonal secretary), HG Sumit Krishna Prabhu (TP Chennai), HG Satya Gopinath Prabhu (TP Rajahmundry) and other devotees from Pune, Tirupati etc attended the colorful festival.
Lord Jagannaths chariot was beautifully decorated with flowers, leaves and flags. The Rathayatra was inaugurated by prominent personalities and local leaders at 2:30 pm. HH Bhanu Swami and Sukhadev Swami showed the green flag and commenced the Rathayatra. It was an ecstatic scene as this was the first Rathayatra held there. Devotees were very enthusiastically chanting and dancing to the melodious Harinam sankirtan for the whole 5 km route. Over 10,000 packets of Jagannath Prasad was distributed from the cart and many members and well-wishers erected stalls to distribute Prasad, offer arti and shower flowers on the Lord. Many other religious groups and organizations joined the procession and each had their troops performing throughout the route which was flooded with many local onlookers. Local electronic media telecasted the festival along with a good coverage in the local newspapers. The program concluded with a grand chappan bhoga offering, offering of artis accompanied by kirtan and a short lecture by HH Bhanu Swami Maharaj. Everyone feasted on Lord Jagannaths Mahaprasad after the program. Please view the Rathayatra photos at https://picasaweb.google.com/100831550820683963480/FirstNelloreRathayatra2012 . You can also see the rare photos of Srila Prabhupada’s Nellore visit at https://picasaweb.google.com/100831550820683963480/SrilaPrabhupadaInNellore .
On the 22nd Jan, we met Sri Mekapati Raj Mohan Reddy (member of Parliament in Lok Sabha) at his residence. He highly praised and showed us the newspaper reports of the Rathayatra. We met Sri Ramana Kumar
(Superintendent of Police IPS) and Jail Superintendent of central jail Nellore Sri Nageswar Rao. We informed then how ISKCON was preaching in many jails of India and abroad under the “ISKCON prison ministry”, showing him photographs and posters of some of these programs. They were very impressed and happily allowed us to start our jail preaching in Nellore from the very next day.
On the 23rd morning we visited the Nellore central jail in a group of 8 devotees. We received a warm welcome from the staff and inmates. The program started by a brief introduction to ISKCON, its preaching and the importance of Harinam and Bhagavad Gita in their lives. As soon as the standing kirtan started, the inmates danced without worries. Some clapped their hands and some felt ecstasy as this was their first exposure to ISKCON and the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. Some jail officers grabbed a microphone and started singing Hare Krishna along with us. They thoroughly enjoyed the program. The officers urged us to carry out this program every week. HH Sukhadev Maharaj settled them down with his proposal of a monthly program and over the time we could upgrade to weekly programs. We decided the distribute Bhagavad Gitas in Telegu along with prasadam for the upcoming programs. For pictures of the jail program please visit https://picasaweb.google.com/100831550820683963480/JailPreachingInNellore201 2 .
HH Sukhadev Swami Maharaj invited me for the festival and this is the brief report of the Nellore festival.
Your servant Vrajendranandan Das
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