Saturday, July 11, 2020
Greater Toronto Area
Honoring the Distancing
HH Bhaktimarga Swami: In what is normally an event with 30-40,000 people in attendance, the Festival of India/Chariots was downscaled substantially due to the epic Covid-19 epidemic. That’s the reality today—learn to adjust.
The organizers of this year‘s program in Toronto operated as cool as cucumbers, as usual, and their approach to this beloved event was full of innovation. Deities of Jagannath were stationed in a convertible and were taken for a ride down the customary route of Yonge St to the waterfront at Sugar Beach, to Scarborough, to North York and finally to Brampton. At each location devout followers of the Universal Lord came in car-loads while honouring social distancing and thus engaged in darshan (viewing), receiving some prasadam (sacred food) and then moving on. Traffic was simply conducted in caravan style. Some folks would come for a second or third darshan. Kirtan was also going on, enacted by occupants of the vehicles.
There were many smiles.
My lightest moment was when I took a seat with a tray of contactless cookies. I clutched onto a device that had a considerable pole-length and which would clamp the package of cookies as I would slowly fling them over to each driver and he/she would stretch out a hand to receive the mercy.
The spirit of the event was sweet, like the cookies. Kichari was served out to the managers of the event. It was the perfect food for the occasion.