By Damodar Krishna Das
Harivamsa Prabhuâs Rathaytatra Service.
It is with sadness that we received the news of the passing of Harivamsa Prabhu on Wednesday 9th of March.
He has been a very dedicated devotee of Sri Sri Radha-Gokulananda at Bhaktivedanta Manor UK for many years. We will leave it to his close friends and mentors at the Manor to describe the glories of that service. But what many devotees may not be aware of, is that he also performed significant service to our London Lord Jagannatha.
For the first time in 2001, we were able to hold the Snana Yatra of Lord Jagannatha in a large marquee at Bhaktivedanta Manor. With more than 1200 devotees bathing Their Lordships, a queuing system had to be implemented. Harivamsa Prabhu enthusiastically came forward to help organise and assemble the barriers and assist the devotees in the queue. He also organised donation boxes and took care of all the donations. After the festival he would help clear up and clean until late in the evening. He continued this service until 2008 when Snana Yatra returned to the London Temple at Soho Street.
In 2004 we were fortunate in being able to offer Their Lordships three chariots for the first time in London. This meant we needed two more cart guides or flag men. Harivamsa Prabhu eagerly took up the service of Lord Jagannathaâs cart guide. Although we call them cart guides, they are actually cart co-ordinators. This service involves liaising between the cart stewards, the driver, winch man, brake man and rope pullers to facilitate the safe and smooth passage of the carts. From under the cart it is not always possible to see where to steer because ones vision can be blocked by the crowds. Similarly from the position of the winch man one cannot always see if the canopy can clear a particular tree or lamp post. The cart guide has to give directions for all these movements. There are approx. 1500 devotees with each cart and the cart guide together with the cart steward team leader are responsible for their safety. Harivamsa Prabhu performed this service from 2004 until 2010.
From 2005 onwards Harivamsa Prabhu also helped the set up crew in Trafalgar Square from 7am to 10am. This is quite heavy work involving the erection of tents and barriers and the deployment of tables and chairs. From 10am he would attend at Hyde Park for the start of the procession.
After the end of the procession at 2.30pm Harivamsa Prabhu would rush back to the Manor to perform his regular Sunday service throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening.
To distribute approx. 18 thousand plates of prasadam at Rathayatra requires 36 large 240 litre barrels together with 50 serving buckets and spoons. On the Monday after Rathayatra these have to be cleaned ready to be taken back to the Rath Warehouse. From 2006 onwards Harivamsa Prabhu insisted on helping with this service, which takes two devotees from 10am until 5pm.
In 2008 he visited the Rath Warehouse to see the rebuilding and refurbishment of Lady Subhadraâs chariot, and again in 2009 to learn how the chariots are loaded and unloaded onto trucks.
Always enthusiastic, cheerful and friendly, Harivamsa Prabhu will be remembered for his wonderful service. We pray that Lord Jagannatha may shower His blessing upon him.
Harivamsa Prabhu ki jaya!
Titiksu dasa and Damodara Krishna dasa
On behalf of the London Rathayatra Team