1st Ratha-Yatra @ ISKCON Ahmedabad
By Damodara Dhananjaya Dasa
Please accept my humble obeisances!
All Glories to Śrī Guru & Gaurānga! All Glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda!
On February 16th, Sri Nityaananda Trayodashi day, we had the deities installed of Sri Sri Jagannatha-Baladeva-Subhadra-Sudarshanji, within the altar where we already had Sri Sri Gaura-Nitaai & Laddu-Gopalji, with a new Simhaasana. Wherever there is Lord Jagannatha, His festivals follow too. So this year we had a series of Utsavas, as in Sri Jagannatha Puri, like Snaan-Yatra, Netrotsava, Gundicha Maarjana and finally Ratha-Yatra. Lordships also remained sick for 15 days after Snaan-Yatra and hence the darshan were closed until Netrotsava. In Gundicha Maarjana, Snaan-Yatra and Netrotsava many devotees participated and celebrated these festivals with great enthusiasm. The photos are available in our web-photo-gallery (https://picasaweb.google.com/iskcon.abad2/SnaanYatra2011).
As the time approached for the Ratha-Yatra, we discovered from the police that the govt. had stopped giving NEW permissions for such yatras due to security reasons. Since 134 years Sri Jagannath temple here at Ahmedabad regularly arranges Ratha-Yatra in Old-Ahmedabad city. This yatra is considered to be the 2nd biggest after the Puri Ratha-Yatra. This year there were around 15,000 policemen deployed for the security of this yatra. This gives an idea of the volume of the yatra. Hence, we had really tough time in convincing the Police Commissioner to grant the permission. Finally, as Lord Jagannatha cannot be stopped, the permission was given and now as a rule, this yatra will be arranged every year.
This year it was for the first time in the South zone of New-Ahmedabad that ISKCON arranged a Ratha-Yatra on the Ratha-Yatra day (we have two more yatras during Sri Raamanavami). The area which was selected is a rich and high locality area with decent and educated people. The length of the route selected was about 6 km, which concluded at our ISKCON temple. Our Ratha is 30 feet high and huge all around. We adopt traditional style of Ratha pulling by using ropes on two sides of the Ratha. One side is for matajis and the other for prabhus. In-between the Kirtan parties chant Hare Krishna mahaa-mantra and dance in ecstasy in the mood as that of Mahaaprabhu. There are two tractors in the front with artifacts on subjects like Bhaagavatam and cycle of birth & death. After these tractors is a royal chariot driven by a white horse with Srila Prabhupada in it. Professional music band party follows Srila Prabhupada’s chariot singing the mahaa-mantra. After the band emerges the Ratha along with the Kirtan party, followed by two more tractors with sweet bundi prasaadam, sprouted mung prasaadam and water. The people from the apartment windows, balconies, terraces and roofs cluster & push each other to get darshan of Lord of the Lords. On the streets the children jump to their highest capacity to grab the prasaadam packets distributed by His Grace Jashomatinandan Prabhu and others on the Ratha. Their faces glow like shining sun when they succeed in the mission. The excitement and happiness is indescribable. O! What to say about the pleasure of the matajis when the stall of ice-candies and fresh juices comes by. Within no time the stall goes out of stock. This time we also had many school children with us. The children in the uniform form groups to dance and enjoy in their own way. Some young matajis wearing Gopi-dresses and saaries with Tilak on their foreheads form circles and perform Raasa-dance and garbaa to cover the whole street as if they have come from Vraja. What an experience of ecstasy, trans, sublime pleasure and divine excitement. For your transcendental pleasure here is the link to the web-photo-album of the festival: (https://picasaweb.google.com/iskcon.abad2/SriJagannathRathaYatra2011)
Overall people enjoyed and appreciated the event very much. We are expecting a much bigger and a longer Yatra with many more devotees next year.
Srila Prabhupada ki jaya!
With dandavat pranaams,
Your insignificant servant on behalf of the devotees of Sri Radha-Govindji dhaam-ISKCON Ahmedabad,
Daamodara Dhananjaya Daasa