Rathayatra at Hare Krishna Gaushala – Kathwada
By Daamodara Dhananjaya Das
Inside Kathwada Gam (village) we have an extension centre of ISKCON Ahmedabad, along with a Gaushala and various organic farms, approximately 15 km away from the temple. Recently, a team of young and energetic go-getter devotees have taken up the challenge to establish a new temple, to develop a farm community, to improve the services provided to the cows and to cultivate a wide range of organic products in this centre. Under the kind care of HG Jashomatinandan Prabhu (ACBSP) (President, ISKCON Ahmedabad) and the management of HG Kalanatha Chaitanya Das (Vice-president, ISKCON Ahmedabad) along with HG Balarama Vallabh Das, Rupmaya Govind Das and Mayapur Vasi Das, this project is taking shape at a lightning speed. HG Visnunama Das (Vice-president, ISKCON Ahmedabad) is also researching and experimenting with various innovative methods for cow-care and organic farming. Simultaneously, this group has also started a regular ‘Sunday Program’ in the close proximity of the divine cows, which is generally attended by 500 to 700 villagers and residents from the surrounding area. Surprisingly, there is a steady increase in the number of people attending this program and hence, many congregational devotees are extending their help and providing various services to the centre. In order to attract more local residents of the Kathwada village in our programs and various activities, we thought of establishing a relationship with them through our standard outreach program – Rathayatra. Hence, on 24th July 2016, a special Rathayatra was arranged for the Kathwada village, exclusively to win their hearts and simultaneously to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of ISKCON. The details are as follows:
Just as you enter the outskirts of Kathwada village, a temple known as Ramji mandir is situated in a corner of the road. In front of the temple, in the open space, our Ratha was being bedecked at 8.00 am, while a lot of amazed sparkling eyes gazed at this spectacular decoration, wondering what we were up to. Gradually, our Kirtan party commenced with some enchanting tunes of Hare Krishna Mahamantra, as Their Lordships Shri Shri Jagannatha, Baladeva, Subhadra, Sudarshana and Srila Prabhupada were getting ready for the divine expedition. The surrounding was truly mesmerizing. It was for the first time that we were to experience a Rathayatra in a village. Innocence, simplicity, faith and happiness, were the most prominent features projected by the faces around. They were so much overwhelmed by this procession that they flocked in and struggled to get a glimpse of Their Lordships.
As the Ratha was ready to start, HG Jashomatinandan Prabhu, despite of his insubstantial health, graced the event with the inauguration speech. The temple president of Vadodara (Baroda) HG Basu Ghosh prabhu (ACBSP), who speaks fluent Sanskrit, Hindi and Gujarati, though a born American, enthralled the gathering by explaining about the importance of Rathayatra, first in Sanskrit and then in Gujarati. After him the famous MLA of Gujarat, Shri Babubhai Jamnadas, delivered a small speech of welcome to the assembled devotees and the villagers. Many other dignitaries were also present on the occasion, such as Shri K. U. Mistry (Ex-Chairman GPCB) and Shri Gopalbhai Jani (Sarpanch – Kathwada).
Chappan bhoga were offered to Their Lordships on the chariot, before beginning the yatra and even after the completion of the Yatra, at ISKCON Gaushala. A team of expert matajis created eleven huge and astounding rangolis at the crossroads and junctions on the pathway of the chariot. The route of the Yatra was just 4 km, according to the size of the village. Finally Lord Jagannatha entered the village along with hundreds of devotees, dancing and singing His glories, distributing sumptuous prasaadam, distributing BTGs and Srila Prabhupada’s books, pulling the Ratha merrily and spreading the Holy Name all around, purifying the village and its residents. Please don’t miss to visit our photo gallery so as to participate in the pleasure, all of us relished thus.
One of the most remarkable events that took place during the Rathayatra was of the loving welcome a group of Muslim brothers provided to us, by serving chilled and soothing sharbat (drink), just outside the main gate of a mosque. Not only that, they also garlanded HG Jashomatinandan prabhu and Their Lordships, while prabhuji too reciprocated by garlanding their main leaders and hence, thanked them for their generous participation.
Eventually, when the Yatra reached the destination, ISKCON Gaushala – Hare Krishna farm, with a choked voice out of ecstasy, HG Jashomatinandan prabhu narrated the importance of Rathayatra through the pastimes of Dwarika. Once again, HG Basu Ghosh prabhu flabbergasted the audience with his sweet Gujarati speech, while he continued with the importance of Rathayatra. Thereafter 56 and more items were offered to Their Lordships and Maha-aarati was offered by the guests of honour. While Mahaprasadam feast was being served to the visitors, a drama was performed by the prabhus of the IYF, which captivated the villagers and other visitors. Many of the visitors enjoyed serving the cows and loitering in the fields, after the end of the celebration. Approximately 2,500 visitors are said to have participated in the event and carried home fond memories of serving the Lord of the universe, Shri Jagannatha.
Links to the photo albums:
Jagannatha Swami ki Jaya!
Srila Prabhupada ki Jaya!
Your humble servant,
Daamodara Dhananjaya Das
Shri RadhaGovind Dham,