The San Francisco Rathayatra, ISKCON’s first, returned on August 14th after lacking the yr 2020 because of the pandemic, with a vibrant and colourful celebration for the Lord of the Universe at Golden Gate Park.
With the exception of final yr, San Francisco Rathayatra has been held yearly since 1967, when Srila Prabhupada sketched a truck with a four-pillared cover on the again and arranged his early disciples in introducing Lord Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra to North America.
The exact same deities from that first Rathayatra, carved by Shyamasundara Das on Srila Prabhupada’s instruction, rode in Their chariots throughout this yr’s parade.
The aptly-named Jagannath Swami Das, temple president of ISKCON Berkely, took on the service of organizing the Rathayatra within the Nineteen Seventies after the passing of the earlier organizer, the famend Jayananda Das. Jagannath Swami explains that this yr, ISKCON Berkely was first permitted to carry a smaller Rathayatra on Telegraph Avenue, simply subsequent to the Berkeley temple, on July 11th.
Four weeks later, devotees got permission to carry the San Francisco Rathayatra on August 14th. The parade started at 11:30am and lasted an hour and a half, throughout which three beautiful colourful chariots carrying Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra made their manner down John F. Kennedy Drive, the place Srila Prabhupada himself rode on Subhadra Devi’s chariot in 1974.
Devotees from St. Louis, San Diego, Sacramento, San Jose, Mountain View, and Santa Cruz chanted and danced ecstatically alongside the way in which, taking part in kartals and mridangas. Also noticed have been an accordion, and a harmonium hung concerning the neck of 1 chanter. At the top of the parade was a lovely Gaura Nitai float. “When they pushed the float and turned it round, it regarded like Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda have been dancing,” Jagannath Swami Das says.
The parade ended with a pageant on Robin Williams Meadow in Golden Gate Park. Previously referred to as Sharon Meadow, this spot additionally holds historic that means for ISKCON devotees, as it’s the place Srila Prabhupada is famously pictured sitting on the grass subsequent to Lord Jagannath and chanting, going through Hippie Hill, in 1967.
Festival attendees obtained a free multi-course vegetarian feast, that includes mattar paneer, basmati rice, puris, and halava. Meanwhile, meals cubicles provided mango lassi, samosas, pakoras, pizza made in a conveyable pizza oven, scorching tea and pure soda.
The occasion additionally included a present store, a sales space promoting Prabhupada’s books, and Festival of India reveals on the science of reincarnation, cow safety, vegetarianism, transcendental artwork, Srila Prabhupada, and extra.
Devotional leisure included bhajans and Bharatanatyam dance on stage, in addition to a George Harrison Tribute Concert. Against a backdrop of Srila Prabhupada standing subsequent to the Beatle, Jagannatha Swami Das and buddies performed George Harrison songs with devotional lyrics, resembling My Sweet Lord, Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth), and Awaiting on You All.
“Everyone who attended left with a lovely feeling,” Jagannath Swami says. “They’re nonetheless speaking about it.”
Next month, Jagannath Swami plans to thank donors and occasion workers with an “appreciation subject journey.” Devotees will hire two open-air trains and journey via the redwood forest within the Santa Cruz mountains, earlier than heading to a specially-reserved seashore spot for bhajans, lunch and visitor audio system.