New Vrindaban Community Hosts Ratha Yatra
Posted July 5, 2010
At 12:00 noon on Saturday, July 10, New Vrindaban Community will host the annual Ratha Yatra festival. Ratha Yatra will feature a large hand-pulled chariot, colorfully decorated with flowers, flags, balloons and festoons. There will also be a smaller hand-pulled cart with two dancing figurines, as well as live music throughout the procession.
The procession route is less than a mile long and can be easily walked by all age groups. The procession will begin a short distance up the road from Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold (the landmark is a large brown plastic log house).
Immediately following the procession, there will be a fabulous American-style vegetarian picnic at the main compound. Later, at sundown (approximately 9:00pm), there will be a torch-lit procession to the lake, featuring a Swan Boat and fireworks. All events are free and open to the public.
New Vrindaban’s Ratha Yatra draws tourists from across the United States. The Palace Lodge, which has 50 rooms and 12 cabins for out-of-town guests, is fully booked. Other guests are being directed to local hotels and motels.
“Ratha Yatra is one reason why the Hare Krishna movement is called the ‘Kitchen Religion,’” says Vrindaban Priya devi dasi from the Czech Republic. “We hold this festival at different locations all over the world, and always, everyone is invited to a free vegetarian meal after the procession.” In New York, where the Ratha Yatra procession travels down 5th Avenue and ends at Washington Square Park, the devotees served over 8,000 free lunches. Devotees served 1,200 free lunches in Dallas and 3,000 in Baltimore.
Ratha Yatra originated thousands of years ago in Jaganantha Puri, India. Ratha Yatra represents Lord Krishna being pulled back to His childhood home in Vrindaban, after He has been away many years to fulfill His princely obligations in Dwarka. Over 5 million people attend the festival in Jaganatha Puri every year.
The first Ratha Yatra outside Jaganantha Puri was organized in San Francisco in 1967 by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. Since then, Ratha Yatra has spread around the world.
“Hare Krishna devotees are very creative when it comes to Ratha Yatra,” says Vrindaban Priya. “In Jacksonville, Florida, the procession is on the beach. Last year, the Russian devotees held Ratha Yatra in December and used a snow sled for the procession. In 2007, a devotee in the US Army held Ratha Yatra on a military base in Iraq.”
In 2009, Vrindaban Priya traveled to festivals around North America for six months, where she promoted New Vrindaban and the Palace of Gold. She returned to New Vrindaban this past April and is again promoting New Vrindaban at festivals across North America. On July 4, she will travel to Washington, DC, where Ratha Yatra will be part of the National Fourth of July Parade. On July 15 – 18, Vrindaban Priya will attend Ratha Yatra in Toronto. The Toronto festival will be a four-day event, featuring two pre-festival days of kirtan. The procession will travel down Yonge Street and through the famous “Toronto Tunnel,” and culminate with a ferry ride to Centre Island.
New Vrindaban Community is located south of Moundsville – Wheeling, off Route 250. For more information, contact (304) 843-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.