It was "gloom to glee" for many parade participants as Vancouver,
B.C.'s 34th annual Rathayatra got underway on August 12. Threatening
weather with a gloomy overcast sky loomed above the Lord's Chariots. At
the precise moment the Chariots began to roll, the clouds opened their
gates and a torrent of mercy fell upon the chariots, devotees,
well-wishers, spectators, passersby and media hounds.
To many, the visit brought anxiety and anguish. Others lauded the event
as the blessings of Lord Jagannatha -- and blessings they were. As the
parade passed the five-minute mark the rainfall abated, and the Chariot
Parade came to full life on a freshly cleansed city -- a venture only
the Supreme Lord could discharge.
Scottish pipers led the parade with a regal victory march. The Clear FM
Community Cruiser, the satellite communications chariot of a popular
radio station, followed, broadcasting live reports from the Chariot
Festival. Like the main "Lion" entrance of the Jagannath Temple in
Puri, the place of origin of this ancient celebration, two Chinese
Lions danced with classic steps before the moving temple of Lord
A horse-drawn cart offered relief for the most weary walkers who needed
periodic rest along the 3-km journey along Beach Avenue into
world-famous Stanley Park.
Lord Jagannath in His original form as Baby Krishna also appeared for
the occasion on His Lotus Flower Chariot, much to the delight of
blessing-seekers who rushed toward Him like paparazzi after worldly
celebrities. The real splendours of the whole event, however, were the
three colourful flower-and-balloon-bedecked Chariots of the Lord, His
brother and His sister.
Reigning under Their huge telescoping canopies, the Deities exhibited
smiling glances of liberation amidst the transcendental sounds of the
holy name resounding through Vancouver's densely-populated West End.
At the conclusion of the parade, phase two of the Chariot Festival
leaped to life. Two stages hosted an ensemble of classic entertainment.
The Hare Krishna Youth Tour demonstrated their incredibly skilled
performances of Bharatanatyam dance, drama and music. Children and
adults alike were entertained with Sadhvi dasi's puppet theatre
performances as "Neat Tie" (Nitai) the clown, who engagingly told tales
of the divine while making balloon art.
Mehndi hand tattoos, face painting, vegetarian cooking demonstrations
and other cultural exhibitions enhanced the day, while a free
vegetarian feast was distributed to an estimated 15,000. Lord Jagannath
Rathayatra ki jai!
- Horse-drawn cart provided rest for some Rathayatra pilgrims
- Giant chariots dwarf the crowds near Second Beach
- Crowds throng about a Rathayatra cart
- Paratpara dasi shades Subhadra Devi as Deities are carried to
Festival of India site
- Carts arrive at Stanley Park
- Beach Avenue was swept clean for Lord Jagannath's procession.
- Laulya dasi greets arriving Deities
- Nipuna das at philosophy booth
- Sadhvi dasi performs as Neat-Tie the Clown