Chakra Announcements

Lord Jagannath Blesses Southside Chicago

by Kulasekhara das

Posted September 15, 2007

On August 11, a group of devotees performed Harinama and presented Lord Jagannath in the 78th annual Bud Billiken Children's Parade in south Chicago. Over 1.5 million people lined the streets and, because the devotees were placed as the 80th group in the parade, Lord Jagannath was also included in the television coverage and seen by up to 25 million viewers.

Gauramani das and his wife Syama Priya dasi invited devotees to Chicago one year to perform Harinama in the park where the parade ends. They were so inspired by the response of the people in the park that they decided to make an attempt in 2006 to actually be in the parade with Lord Jagannath. Vakresvara Pandit das received participation permission ahead of many others who have been trying for years to get in. Bhaktivinoda das delivered a 6-foot-5-inch (195cm) deity of Lord Jagannath from the Mississippi farm and stayed up late for two days preparing a magnificent feast. Over 2,000 plates of prasadam were distributed. Local Chicago devotees came, as did 150 others from all over the country — Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas, New York, Washington D.C., Alachua, Gita-nagari, Columbus and Cleveland.

That year the devotees ended up among the last groups in the parade, but when the devotees saw the larger-than-life form of Lord Jagannath atop the platform vehicle, all doubts and disappointments shattered and the parade ended with a bang. They posted photos from the parade on various websites with the hope that other devotees around the world would be inspired.

This year the devotees were determined to get a position more to the front of the parade so the cameras could broadcast the sight of the Lord and the kirtan on TV. Thousands of books and plates of prasadam were distributed. Kuvaleshvara das carved the 7-foot tall (213cm) deity of Lord Jagannath, assisted by Krsna Balarama das and by Mahabala das and his wife.

Jaya Jagannath das, Bhakta Jerry and Kalki das made accommodations and set up the park, and Kanta dasi painted the Lord's features. Vakreshvara Pandit das and Kamagiri dasi led the chanting, and their families and Bhaktivinoda das prepared all of the prasadam.

(More photos are at

Srila Prabhupada once said: "Not paid servants, but servants by affection." Motivated by sincerity and affection for Prabhupada, who made great sacrifices and suffered much inconvenience to deliver conditioned souls from nescience back to Godhead, devotees are doing weekly home programs. Now a temple facility on the south side of Chicago has become available just days after the parade. Working together as a team, making sacrifices and tolerating inconveniences is paying off. Inspired by Prabhupada's example, we all beg to be able to continue and expand this service.