Los Angeles New Dwaraka Festival of the Chariots 2007

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By Svavasa dasa
New Dwaraka Temple President

The 31st Annual Festival of the Chariots will roll into Venice Beach on Sunday, August 5, 2007. The festival commences at 10:00 a.m. at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and proceeds south on Main St., with three fully decorated, four-story chariots leading a colorful parade toward the Ocean Front Walk Plaza.

The Festival of the Chariots includes a free feast for thousands, free entertainment and exhibits and booths all bringing together the finest in Indian culture. The festival celebrates Lord Jagannatha, the Lord of the Universe, and is put on by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The Festival of the Chariots is now performed in every country across the world and dates back thousands of years to Jagannatha Puri in India.

The Festival of the Chariots was first performed in Los Angeles in 1977 and is now in its 31st year.

Come and join us this year for a full day of bliss, prasadam, entertainment, and the chanting of the Holy Names of the Lord.

We look forward to seeing you there.

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Comments • [comment feed]

1 Akruranatha

I’ll be there with bells on! The devotees in New Dvaraka, headed by Svavasa, really know how to throw a transcendental party. L.A. Ratha Yatra rocks!

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 20th, 2007
2 Suresh das

It was a really beautiful festival this year, filled with much joy and good cheer. The parade was fun, and the kirtans in front of each of the carts were sweet and melodious. Except for the usual Christian hecklers there were no other disturbances. I looked everywhere for Akruranatha Prabhu (the man with the bells on), but couldn’t find him. I can say — I had a very happy experience.

Comment posted by Suresh das on August 9th, 2007
3 Akruranatha

Suresh Prabhu,

I wore my bells underneath this year. :-)

I was in the question and answer booth pretty much all day. Sorry I missed you.

It *was* an especially sweet Ratha Yatra this year, wasn’t it?

It was nice to see Ramesvara there. It must be uncomfortable for him in some ways, and we should try to welcome and encourage him. He only had time to quickly say hello to me (he was anxious to get to the parade, and everyone was stopping him along the way), but I was very glad to see him there.

The question and answer booth was well attended all day, with Dhananjaya, Bhaktisiddhanta Maharaja, and Romapada Maharaja answering many good questions.

We had a little snafu in the beginning because the sound system did not arrive as planned, but eventually we got one of the sets from the carts.

In the mean time, I talked to a nice older couple from Miami and they took a large 2 volume Krishna book set for $40. They had “breakfast” at 11:30 from the “Delicious Snacks” booth and told me the cauliflower pakoras were the best cauliflower they ever tasted.

I agreed with Svavasa’s assessment that the attendance might have been smaller than in past years, but the quality of the interactions with innocent guests was very high.

One nice question in the Q & A booth came from two young Christian women who were concerned about Deity worship. They had obviously seen the emotional relationship devotees were having with Lord Jagannatha and the strength of it frightened them a little. Romapada Swami very nicely explained how Deity worship differs from worship of “graven images”. I gave them a hardback Science of Self Realization before they left.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 9th, 2007
4 Suresh das

The festival size seems to shrink a little every year. But the difference this year was the amount of harmony which seemed to exist between many diverse groups, and ages of devotees. The kirtans were sweeter. Sura Prabhu and his troupe chanted powerfully for many hours before the parade arrived at the festival site, and while the parade arrived. At one point many kirtans were going on simultaneously.

My only regret was seeing devotees working so hard in the various booths. It was a really hot day. It is my wish that one day many of the booths could be shuttered, freeing up more devotees to participate themselves in the joys of the festival.

If I could have my one real wish, it would be that Rathyatra could be a “Festival of the Holy Name”. In other words, eleminate the rock bands, and some of the acts on the stage, which seem very far away from pure Krishna Consciousness, and Vedic Culture.

I will never forget participating in the 1973-74 San Francisco Rathyatra, where the “Every Town & Village” album was recorded. The kirtan was so powerful, that no only were all the devotees chanting and dancing in ecstacy, but the entire crowd of the festival was chanting and dancing as well.

We were chanting and dancing on stage. It seemed like we were jumping 2-3 feet in the air. We were jumping pretty high and dancing really hard. It was such an ecstatic kirtan, lead by Sukhadeva Prabhu on harmonium. Suddenly the kirtan became so powerful, that the entire crowd of the festival moved into the stage and everyone was singing in total bliss.

I went out into the crowd to try to sell some books. People were yelling at me “leave me alone - I just want to chant Hare Krishna”. You can’t argue with that can you?

I long for the day when Rathyatra is totally dedicated to the “Festival of the Holy Name”.

Comment posted by Suresh das on August 10th, 2007

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