Ratha Yatra in San Francisco: A Vaishnava devotee dancing in front of chariots. (From archives)
Ratha Yatra in San Francisco: The three chariots and Gaura Nitai in the front. (From archives)
By HG Chaitanya Charitamrita Dasa and Girish Parikh
On Saturday, July 25, 2009; ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) Berkeley Hare Krishna Temple celebrated Ratha Yatra (Festival of Chariots) in the Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. ISKCON of Silicon Valley (ISV) located in San Jose collaborated in the celebration.
The Ratha Yatra with three chariots of Lord Jagannatha, Lady Subhadra, and Lord Baladeva respectively started in the afternoon from Transverse and JFK Drive. The colorful chariots were gloriously decorated.
Jagannatha represents the Lord of the Universe and is simultaneously the same as Lord Krishna.
The ecstatic sannyasis and several hundred devotees chanted Hare Krishna Mahamantra (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare), and glorified Lord’s names. Devotees pulled the ropes of the chariots with great enthusiasm and devotion.
The parade progressed East to Sharon Meadows for the “Festival of India” celebration. This event included music, dances, devotional songs, and kirtans glorifying the pastimes of the Lord. Some dances were performed by children captivating the viewers.
About 2000 devotees enjoyed the parade, the festival, and free prasadam (pure vegetarian food offered to the Lord).
The first Ratha Yatra in North America was held in mid 1960s in San Francisco, and since then ISKCON has been celebrating it every year. This celebration is performed by ISKCON in many cities in the U.S. as well as in other countries including India.
Many people do not or cannot come to the Temple. So merciful Lord Jagannatha comes out with His sister Subhadra, and brother Balarama to bless all.
ISKCON was founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in mid 1960s in New York. There are many ISKCON temples in the U.S., and in other countries including India.
For more information about ISKCON’s programs contact Hare Krishna temple near you. Please also visit www.ISKCON.com.
(HG Chaitanya Charitamrita Dasa has been participating in Ratha Yatras since 1974 and is still serving the devotees. Currently he lives in Modesto, California, and is an instructor of Bhakti Yoga. E-mail: email@example.com.
Girish Parikh is author and journalist based in Modesto, California. He attended the first Ratha Yatra held in Chicago in 1974, which was blessed by the presence of Srila Prabhupada. Since then he has been participating in Ratha Yatras and even publishing reports about them in the newspapers.) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)