Chakra Announcements

Triumphant Homecoming Rathayatra

by Dvija-priya dasi

Posted October 26, 2009

Here in Florida we are blessed with the opportunity to experience Lord Jagannatha's Rathayatra in more cities than anywhere else in North America. It comes as no surprise, then, that the last in a line of ecstatic festivals turned out to be, by all accounts, unrivaled. For our Gainesville Rathayatra, held on Friday, October 16 as part of the University of Florida's Homecoming Parade, we took full advantage of a captive audience of tens of thousands lining University Avenue. Devotees loudly chanted, danced, waved and smiled their way past onlookers, giving everyone the chance to hear the Holy Name and to see Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balarama and Lady Subhadra.

Because the Krishna Lunch program has been part of the University of Florida for over 38 years, many students as well as alumni of the University of Florida have very positive feelings toward the Hare Krishnas. Delight was evident on their faces, as young and old spontaneously waved, clapped and smiled at us. Women carrying a large banner with "Krishna House — serving Gators since 1971" led our party, followed by rows of colorfully dressed young ladies dancing in unison. The kirtan was surcharged with such energy that a local TV reporter commented that ours was the most "colorful and enthusiastic" group. Kalyapani das bravely donned stilts, giving lots of kids a treat, walking tall and merrily interacting with folks along the way.

The devotees from Krishna House had prepared a delicious feast of pasta and curd vegetable, salad topped by their magic dressing, bread and melt-in-the-mouth halava, which they kindly served to exhausted participants at the end of our route. Though the weather had looked threatening before we began and there was a forecast of storms, we made it through the parade and finished our prasadam just before the rains came. All glories to the many organizers and the 120-plus participants who made this Rathayatra such a great success. For more photos, visit