ISKCON Singapore 2011 Ratha Yatra

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On the 24th August 2011, more than 2500 devotees and members of the public
took part in the Jaganatha Ratha Yatra festival organized by Caitanya
Cultural Society in Singapore.

A huge 15-feet high silver ratha (made out of 4500kg of silver) was brought
from the Perumal Temple and was initially meant to be used for the Ratha
Yatra. However, owing to its height the Silver Ratha could not enter the Toa
Payoh stadium. With immense enthusiasm and within a few hours time the
devotees made another Ratha cart suitable for stadium and improvised a new
program.

The first part of the program was an hour-long ratha yatra procession in the
parking area outside the stadium starting at 5 p. m. Sri Sri Gaura Nitai
were placed in the Silver Ratha and all the devotees was in ecstasy seeing
Their beautiful forms. It was the desire of Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura
Nitai to bless the audience.

Then at 6 p. m. all the devotees entered the stadium with kirtan. HG Charu
Chandra Prabhu (General Secretary, ISKCON Bangladesh) performed Maha aratika
for Their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra Maiya who
comfortably seated on the newly built ratha. Then, with the auspicious
sounds of the conch shell being blown and a melodious Hare Krishna Maha
mantra Kirtan led by Mathura Jivan Prabhu from Vrindavan and Cidananda
Krishna das from Bangladesh, the devotees began the second ratha-yatra
procession.

Many dignitaries attended the Ratha Yatra festival and performed puja and
abhisekha. Among them was the retired SP Mr Raja Gopal, DSP Mr Ram Singh,
and the president of Bengali associates Mr. Nikhilesh Gupta. Mr. Ranjit, a
lawyer from Singapore, was the co-ordinator for this Ratha Yatra festival
and is helping devotees to legally establish Krishna consciousness in
Singapore.

While the procession was marching ahead, respected people from Singapore
came forward to worship Sri Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra by offering a
lamp, garlands, fruits and other bhoga items. (There was a counter opened
for Bhoga offerings).

As soon as the lights were turned on at 7:00pm the whole stadium looked like
Vaikuntha (see photos). The procession rounded the stadium four times with
ecstatic chanting and dancing and at 8:00pm the festival came to an end.

HG Charu Chandra Prabhu explained the significance of Ratha Yatra and also
quoting from ancient Vedic literature mentioned how Ratha Yatra is the
oldest festival celebrated on the earth. The first Ratha Yatra procession
took place approximately 3.5 crore years ago. The other speakers, namely HG
Bhadra Govinda Prabhu, HG Chidananda Prabhu and myself spoke about the other
details of the festival and highlighted the importance of maintaining the
spiritual culture of the nation and bringing all people closer to God to
experience a life of inner fulfillment.

At the end more than 2000 plates of delicious Prasadam were distributed. At
around 9 p. m. the silver rath cart was towed back to the Perumal temple for
a distance of about 12 kilometres by a pick-up van which had the Hare
Krishna maha-mantra kirtan resounding from its sound system. The silver rath
was moving slowly and was very well lit and nicely decorated. The sight of
the rath and the sound of the holy names blaring from the sound system was
an unusual experience for the local residents, who came out of the
surrounding shops and buildings to see the cart. Some of them stood on their
balconies to watch as it passed by. Many of them came forward and offered
their respects and obeisances to Their Lordships Sri Sri Gaura Nitai.

Sri Jagannatha Ratha Yatra ki jaya!

(Posted on PAMHO Free Forum)

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