By Basu Ghosh Das
Pictures can be seen on the internet (google plus) at the following links – three albums:
http://tinyurl.com/mafcvhb – Rathayatra procession pictures
http://tinyurl.com/l3s32sy – First day pandal/stage program
http://tinyurl.com/q2k9tq6 – Usha Aniruddha dance drama pictures
On Friday, January 23, 2015, ISKCON Juhu, Bombay organized their annual Rathayatra festival.
The Rathayatra began at the Bhaktivedanta Mission School. A pandal (tent) was erected there, and several senior ISKCON leaders addressed the crowd. They included Nava Yogendra Swami, Atmanivedana Swami, Amiyavilas Swami, Devakinandan Das, Surdas, Mahamantra Das, Basu Ghosh Das, Braja Hari Das, President of ISKCON Juhu, Dadhibaksha Das, and Janardan Das, who is 88 years old.
There were three carts, decordated in grand style with various floral arrangements for the procession. One cart each for the three Deities of Jagannath, Baladev, and Subhadradevi.
Senior ISKCON leaders Indradyumna Swami, Radhanath Swami, Gopal Krishna Goswami, and Giriraj Swami joined the procession later on.
The procession left the school at 2 PM, and passed through the Lokhandwala residential and commerical area, then proceeded onto the Western linking road, a wide commerical thoroughfare that runs from Andheri West in it’s Southern side, and upto Borivali in the Northern side. From there the procession came to the Juhu Vile Parle Scheme Road number 10, and ended at the Juhu Joggers park at about 7 PM.
The procession was witnessed by thousands of Bombayites, as it passed through these busy thoroughfares. Hundreds of devotees from ISKCON’s four main temples in Bombay participated in the procession.
Immediately after the completion of the Rathayatra, there were lectures on the stage erected at the park, surrounded by seating for the public, and behind that a number of booths erected by the temple devotees with lots of participation from Juhu temple’s large congregation.
Speakers on the first day of the three day park program were Radhanath Swami, Jayadvaita Swami, Jagajivana Das from Paraguay, South America, Giriraj Swami, Basu Ghosh Das, and Murli Krishna Swami. Basu Ghosh Das spoke in Hindi.
There was a very nicely decorated temple erected next to the stage, and the Deities of Lord Jagannath, Baladev, and Subharadevi were worshipped there for the entirety of the three day program. Chappan bhog – fifty six items
– including many varieties of sweets, savories, etc., were offered to Their Lordships.
Several thousand members of the public gathered for the program, and full dinner/bhojan prasad was served to all at the conclusion of the lectures.
During mornings, Gopal Krishna Maharaj lectured at the park on Srimad Bhagavatam, after regular aratis offered to the Deities, and guru puja was offered to Srila Prabhupada.
On the second day of the festival, in the evening, Indradyumna Swami’s traveling festival team, along with the Sankhya dance group of Bombay, performed the dance drama, “Usha and Aniruddha”, adapted from the story in the tenth Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam. ISKCON Devotees from around the world, from almost all the continents, joined with Sankhya dancers, in the almost two hour production.
Most of the traditional Indian dance forms and their respective costumes were presented as a part of the story, including Kathakali and Mohiniattam style dances and costumes from Kerala, Bharatanatyam dances and costumes from Tamil Nadu, Kathak dances and costumes from North India, Manipuri dance and costumes from Manipur, etc.
It was a dazzling performance, that was viewed by upwards of three thousand members of the public, who maintained rapt attention and silence throughout the performance!
The performance was preceeded by a short kirtan by Bada Hari Das from the USA, accompanied by Murari Krishna Das on violin, who is from Kazakhstan.
Indradyumna Swami spoke, introduced the story of Usha and Aniruddha, and mentioned the names of the countries of the performers, and informed the public in brief of his 25 years of staging the festival of India annually at Poland.