I am excited that one week from today, Lord Jagannatha will be rolling down Yonge Street giving mercy to the folks of Toronto. I am also feeling a bit old coming to the realization that it has been a full 20 years since I organized Ratha Yatra with my sister, Minakshi, the rest of our family and the devotees of New Remuna Dham.
From the late 80's to the early 90's we were tasked with organizing Ratha Yatra for ISKCON Toronto. I was a teenager back then and since I graduated University when I was still a teen I was already running a company and travelling for business. But when summer would come along and a lot of that would have to ground to a halt and the focus would be all about Lord Jagannatha and how to please Srila Prabhupada.
So on this personal site, I would like to take a bit of a trip down memory lane and 20 years later share some pictures, articles, thoughts and maybe even a video, if we can transfer it from VHS (okay...now I am feeling really old. Some of the kids are probably saying, huh, what is VHS :-) We will share a few memories every day over the next few days...
Srila Prabhupada and Lord Jagannatha were very merciful to allow us to do this service and it gave us the chance to work very closely with HH Bhakitmarga Swami, Jagdish Goswami, Janardan Prabhu and so many other devotees.
Thank you for letting me share.
Lord Jagannatha on His chariot, looking down on the kirtan and chariot with horses that will alert Torontonians that "He is coming"
We had placards made shown some of the places where Srila Prabhupada's temples were established on every continent around the world. It had a definite impact on parade viewers, participants and the media. It also reminded devotees that we are part of Srila Prabhupada global family and he has indeed established the INTERNATIONAL society of Krishna Consciousness.
Organized kirtan was very important. In CC it is described how Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had organized kirtan parties around the Ratha Yatra carts in Jagannatha Puri. This is Subhadra Maharani's cart. Every cart was packed...
Just see Lord Jagannatha's devotees! These carts came from Philadelphia and we raised enough Laxmi to purchase them. These carts were from Devi Deva Prabhu, a pioneer of Ratha Yatra at New Remuna Dham who was influenced by Sriman Jayananda Prabhu himself.
This is not from the days of digital photography and thousands of shots. But just see how many devotees. One of the personal requests we would make was that not only were core devotees from in and out of town in Vaishnava dress but that they would not be skirting the sidewalks but rather dancing in front of the carts to show Srila Prabhupada how proud we are to be part of his family.
This is Jagdish Prabhu (then Goswami and GBC) who we were very close with and grew up knowing. He was astonished with what Ratha Yatra had become. In this shot Ramanada Roy Prabhu. In 1992 as we got off the ferry, he put his arm around me and showed the sea of people going over the bridge. He was astonished, but then asked will we have enough prasadam? Krishna made all the arrangements.
Festival of the Chariots. "ISKCON Around the World" was the theme of 1992, the last year we organized Ratha Yatra. 20 years is a big difference. My father with the bull horn, walking. The bull horn was given to him to lead RY years before by Jagdish Today he can hardly walk but is still at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada, trying to serve Lord Jagannatha.