Ratha-Yatra is the ancient festival when the Lord rides through the city on a mammoth chariot, to cast His merciful glance on His devotees. ISKCON Bangalore celebrated this festival by taking the deities of Sri Sri Krishna Balarama on a beautiful Ratha.
The festival was inaugurated by Sri Sri Vidyaprasanna Thirtha Sripadaru, Sri Subramanya Mutt, Kukke Subramanya. His Holiness has been the Head Pontiff of the Mutt since 1996 and has the good fortune of worshipping the six Saligrama shilas which were originally handed over personally to Sri Madhavacharya by Sri Vedavyasa Mahamuni. In his address, the Swamiji said, “The Lord advented on this planet to annihilate evil and propagate knowledge. The same Lord has come today on this Ratha to protect His devotees and help them pursue the path of knowledge. Anyone who sees the Lord on His chariot gets liberation.”
Sri Madhupandit Dasa – President of ISKCON Bangalore said, “We should follow great Acharyas like Srila Prabhupada who showed the path of perfection by distributing the holy name and transcendental knowledge. Unfortunately, since people are not of divine nature, they cannot appreciate such great gurus, so they run behind people having power and money.”
Sri N.L. Narendra Babu, MLA, Mahalaxmipuram and Sri S. Harish, Former Dy. Mayor, Bangalore City, Sri Tiru Das, Director, Public Relations, ISKCON Bangalore were also present.
The dignitaries next offered Arati to Their Lordships, and following the tradition of Jagannatha Puri Ratha-yatra where the King sweeps the road on which the Lord’s ratha is pulled, the chief guests symbolically swept the road in front of the Ratha.
The sight of thousands of devotees pulling the Ratha was magnificent. It symbolised inviting Sri Krishna and Balarama into their hearts out of love and devotion. Many devotees took turns to lead the sankirtan en route, starting with prayers to Lord Narasimha for a safe journey. Throughout the festival, they sang the Hare Krishna maha-mantra with great enthusiasm.
Prasadam distribution plays a major role in any celebration in our culture. There were vehicles behind the Ratha carrying prasadam and many volunteers engaged in distributing it to the public who participated in the Ratha-Yatra.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-Gita: patram pushpam phalam toyam, yo me bhaktya prayacchati: “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” The Ratha paused at different places to receive flowers, coconuts and fruits offered by the public. Some had even washed the street in front of their houses or shops and decorated it with Rangoli to receive the Lord.
The wonderful Ratha-yatra continued for about three hours with enthusiastic devotees chanting and dancing in front of the Ratha. When the Ratha returned to the temple, there was a spectacular display of fire-works for the pleasure of Sri Krishna-Balarama.
This joyous festival for Their Lordships, Sri Sri Krishna-Balarama on the streets of Bangalore culminated in Their bestowing benevolence on the conditioned souls. It was a pleasurable evening for all the devotees gathered who chanted, danced and glorified the Lord in this blissful celebration.