By Parsada dasi
Our camera does not do justice to capture the mood of excitement, joy and climax of this amazing festival. The opulence and grandeur is befitting the Lord of the Universe with His brother Lord Balarama and sister Subhadra Devi. The procession took us back 5,000 years ago when Krishna and Balarama entered the city of Mathura. And it is after 20 years Their Lordships, again happily distribute mercy to the people of Mathura by the expert arrangement of ISKCON Vrindavan’s Namahatta Department headed by HG Radha Shyamsundar Das and Temple President HG Pancha Gauda Das.
Mathura is considered to be the silver capital of India and organizers left no stone unturned when it came to top class arrangement for the devotees and guests. Devotees were transported to Mathura from our Krishna Balaram Mandir in Vrindavan and a grand welcoming ceremony for Their Lordships took place amidst a roaring kirtan in Kedarnath Dham. The entrance was decorated with fresh flower garlands and the most incredible rangoli decorations we had ever seen, thereafter devotees had breakfast. Members of our management welcomed sadus and dignitaries. His Holiness Navayogendra Swami and His Grace Deena Bandhu prabhu gave classes. In a side park of the hosting site, the chariot of Lord Jagannath was being decorated with beautiful garlands of roses, jasmine and marigold and colorful rangoli. Chappan Bhog and arti was offered to Their Lordships. The atmosphere was surcharged with an electrifying energy. Lord Jagannath was ready to ascend His chariot.
As Their Lordships were carried to the chariot, devotees and local Mathura vasi’s offered obeisances and rushed to touch Them. Amidst the blowing of conch shells and a roaring kirtan led by our temple president Pancha Guada Prabhu, Their Lordships were comfortably seated on Their thrones.
Thousands grabbed the ropes and pulled Lord Jagannath slowly on the main street of Mathura, which was beautifully decorated with rangoli, police flanked both sides of the chariot and the procession was led by another smaller beautifully decorated chariot of the Yamuna Foundation, a big brass band, horses and a camel, all gorgeously decorated. The Lord was on His way to shower mercy on all. Three groups of kirtaneers pelted out the Holy Names. Shopkeepers and residents showered Lord Jagannath and the devotees with rose petals and came forward with offerings of garlands, sweets, fruits and luxmi, throughout the procession. Every five to ten minutes Lord Jagannath stops to receive the worship and offerings of His people in Mathura. It was truly a very touching sight.
We noticed the entire path of the procession decorated with rangoli, which lasted 4 kilometers, these artists had the entire Mathura glorifying their artistic talent. Dignitaries walked the procession with our ISKCON leadership, His Holiness Gopal Krishna Goswami, His Holiness Lokanath Goswam, HH Subhag Swami, HH Navayogendra Swami, HG Deena Bandhu Prabhu and a host of sanyassis and senior devotees. The kirtan led by HH Lokanath Swami had Mathura in ecstasy. Devotees and guests wore a jute cap boasting “Jai Jagannath and “ Yamuna Foundation,” highlighting the plight of our Yamuna River.
Organizers arranged fruit juices, bottled water, fruits, sweets and savories to be distributed to everyone, this led up to the end of the procession in Jubli Park Vikas bazaar, where Lord Jagannath will rest and enjoy the evening program arranged for His pleasure by His loving devotees. His resting house was opulently decorated with cream and gold cloth.
Dignitaries addressed the guests and hailed the festival and ISKCON’s activities world-wide. His Holiness Gopal Goswami thanked the people of Mathura and the organizers.
Their Lordships were treated to chappan bhog and arati. The ISKCON Vrindavan congregation devotees did a drama on Mother Yasoda binding Gopal and the devotees from Noida a sweet pastime of Lord Caitanya. Beautiful bhajans brought the most incredible Ratha Yatra festival in the most holy birthplace of Lord Krishna to a close. Guests and devotees were treated to a royal feast organized by the Yamuna Foundation.
HG Radha Shyamsundar Prabhu said, “We are enthralled at the warm and loving reception of the Mathura vasi’s, we never expected such a welcome. Lord Krishna is very very pleased. We hope to make Ratha Yatra an annual event in Mathura. We would like to thank our dignitaries without whom this festival would not be done on such a grand scale: Srimati Manisha Gupta (Chairperson Mathura Municipality), Mr Ravikant Garg (Ex-State Minister U.P.) Mr S.K. Sharma (Member State Executive BJP), Mr Mukesh Gautam (Chairman Vrindavan), Mr Pradeep Bansal (Yamuna Mission), Mr Rajendra Bansal (Yamuna Mission), Mr Mohit Mukut Wala (Vrindavan), Mr Sandeep Arora (Giriraj Group), His Grace Radha Kinkar Das, Mr Trilokinath Bansal (Real Estate), Mr Deepak Goyal (Saraswati Hospital), Mr Manohar Lal Goyal (Shorawala), Mr Amit Gautam, Mr Ashwini K Bindas, Mr Paras Jain.
The photo’s here are of the morning session, evening session will be uploaded soon.