By Jiva Goswami
The Alachua Temple is building a new Ratha Yatra cart. If you have any pictures and descriptions of Jaganath Puri’s carts, and of Iskcon’s carts around the world, please email them to AlachuaCart@GMail.com. Local residents can speak to Dharmaraj or Jiva Goswami.
We intend it to be ~40 ft tall (including canopy, chakra and flags), ~22 ft long and ~12 wide. The basic structure will be metal with wooden wheels and an electric powered, telescoping canopy. A primary goal is make the cart such that it can be collapsed and rolled into a large box truck or a custom trailer by one or two people in an hour or two. The 6 ft wooden wheels are already ordered from a custom wheel manufacturer and should arrive soon.
Our immediate purpose is for Ratha Yatra parades through out North and Central Florida, such as Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville.
Despite the use of metal, we hope to make the cart look as authentic as we can. Puri’s carts are larger and more complex than this cart will be. Pictures of Puri’s carts and of ISKCON’s carts around the world will help us to interpret our design to give the best “look and feel” as we can. Part of that will be the shape and details of the structure itself. Another part will be the colors and patterns of the painting and other decorations (canopy, columns, swans etc).
Please email any pictures you have of old and new Ratha Yatra carts. Most needed would be close up “cart geek” pictures showing the design and construction of the cart rather than distance shots. Although those pictures are welcome too. Underneath the deck, the wheels, steering mechanisms, canopy raising and lowering, size ratios
(axle location relative to front and back, deck height, etc) are of immediate need. We will also need pictures and descriptions of decorations, color patterns, “extras” like horses, etc.
We are currently the proud owners of a 33 year old cart, first built in Chicago in
1974. Prabhupada rode the cart in the 1974 Chicago parade, and then again in the
1976 New York Ratha Yatra. The cart made its way to Boston around 1980, where it remained until a few years ago. From Boston it participated in parades around the East Coast, including Washington DC, Philadelphia , etc. Storage problems in Boston, along with a number of the cart’s former caretakers now living in Alachua, precipitated its arrival to Florida . After some renovations, the cart has been in three parades so far.
However, questions about the condition of the original wooden wheels, issues related to safety (lack of brakes, primitive steering), the lack of 45′ tall parade routes in Florida cities, and the sheer labor involved with transporting and building the cart have prompted us to build another cart.
We will of course, continue to care for and use the original cart for special occasions.
The Alachua Cart Crew