Helsinki Ratha Yatra - An Update
Posted May 26, 2006
This is a notice for everyone who read the announcement on Finland's first Ratha-yatra in Helsinki. The initial announcement noted, "Everyone is invited to participate!" A recent development, however, should be brought to the attention of those planning to participate, especially those among them who may be making travel arrangements to attend the event.
I have just received a phone call from an old friend who had inquired whether those of us, who are not members of ISKCON, would also be welcome to participate. In response to the query, the management of the Helsinki temple has qualified the scope of the invitation. According to the statement, those, who have received initiation or are otherwise committed to Vaishnava-movements independent of ISKCON, are welcome to watch the occasion amidst the public, but they may not:
- Participate in the Ratha Yatra procession.
- Participate in the kirtan that is sung on the occasion.
- Engage in any form of service in supporting the event. (The presumed exception being financial support.)
So firm is the principle that even the offer of a certain hard-working Vaishnavi, who had offered to render the humblest of services - washing pots - was turned down.
One must wonder whether some nuances of the name "Jagannath" may have gone unnoticed from the leaders of ISKCON Helsinki. After all, the heartfelt invitation from Astasakhi Didi did mention that:
"When the festival takes place, traditional castes are ignored and ordinary citizens may take part in the celebration with upper-class priests side by side."
Perhaps, if it rains not pouring on the event's day, this ordinary citizen shall grab his japa-mala and take a stroll downtown Helsinki and silently observe how the devotees carry the merciful Lord of the Universe down the streets of the capital, submitting an earnest prayer at his feet for the day to dawn when Vaishnavas of different affiliations can, if nothing else, at least chant the names of Krishna together.
In closing, a few payars describing how the Vaishnavas celebrated the event with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
vaishnavera megha-ghataya haila badal
kirtana-anande saba varshe netra-jal
tri-bhuvana bhari uthe kirtaner dhvani
anya vadyadir dhvani kichui na suni
sata thani bule prabhu hari hari boli
jaya jagannatha bolen hasta-yuga tuli
"And there was rainfall from the Vaishnavas, assembled together like a cluster of clouds; In the joy of kirtan, tears poured from their eyes like rain.
"The three worlds filled as the sounds of the kirtan arose; None could hear the sounds of any other instruments!
"In seven places Prabhu wandered, chanting 'Hari!', 'Hari!' 'Jaya Jagannath!' he said, his two arms raised up high!"
Sri Gauravidhur jayati - Victory to the Golden Moon!
Sri-Chaitanya-charana-kamalarpitam astu -