Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tallahassee Ratha-yatra

Lord Jagannatha kindly agrees to participate in the Springtime Tallahassee parade (see each year, during a festival attended by a quarter of a million people. His associates pull His chariot and chant and dance, in a very lively way. Mother Yadunandana's Jagannatha Deities have big smiles on their faces and are an inspiration to see. A devotee lady visiting from Vancouver was leading the kirtana enthusiastically when I arrived. Some young women performing in the parade were attracted by her chanting. Garuda, Nrsimhananda, Krishna Kesava, and Nagaraja Prabhus, a local Vaishnava youth, and even I led kirtana before or during the parade, or on the subsequent harinama. Garuda played his guitar and danced the whole parade. Some of the young ladies danced nicely in a pattern at the front of the party, and Bhakta John and I tried to dance nicely in a pattern that was compatible, if not identical, behind them. For me, one of the best parts of the parade is seeing the waves, smiles, and dances of those in the crowd, revealing some level of attraction to Lord Jagannatha, His associates, His name, and His pastimes. I always think that in the future, some devotee will be relating the story of how they came to Krishna consciousness, and they will say how they saw the devotees chanting in the Springtime Tallahassee parade, and then . . . . After the parade we did harinama through a street fair covering several blocks near Park Ave. and Monroe St. Amazing enough, although we passed many policemen, no one asked us to stop, and we made our way slowly through the crowded festival. We found a vacant place amidst the grassy median of Park Ave. , away from vendors, where we chanted for some time. Bhakta Brian, Bhakta John, and I, as well as others, distributed educational flyers telling about some aspect of Krishna consciousness with the local temple program and contact information on it. Puskara Prabhu distributed Krishna: Reservoir of Pleasure. I had some flyers also with the Hare Krishna mantra on it as well as our web site (, and I told the people if they liked our music that they could download some songs or order some CDs from our web site. Many people were thankful. We also carried a large sign proclaiming "Chant Hare Krishna and be happy." After the hour long harinama, there was prasadam for the devotees in a nearby park. Three young people dressed like hippies also joined us. There were rice, spaghetti, Gauranga potatoes and five varieties of cakes and sweets, most of it cooked by Daru Brahma Prabhu, temple president of Tallahassee. About fifteen devotees from Tallahassee and forty from Alachua attended the event. Many Alachua devotees came on the Vaishnava Youth Ministry bus which was sponsored by Ramiya Prabhu and a Tallahassee devotee. Kaliyaphani and Manu kindly drove the bus, Karuna Sindhu suppled nice rice and vegetable prasadam for breakfast, and Krishna Keshava Prabhu led bhajans enroute. All glories to all the devotees whose different contributions made the event a success. Please come next year and bring your friends, and we can make it bigger and better! All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who are kindly engaging ourselves in this auspicious work!