By Basu Ghosh Das
520 more photos from the event can be seen online (google plus): http://tinyurl.com/oj2rg5p
On Wednesday, January 21, 2015, ISKCON Indore organized a grand Jagannath Rathayatra festival.
Indore, the largest city of Madhya Pradesh, was visited by Srila Prabhupada and the first large group of disciples he brought to India back during 1970/1971.
Today, due to the rapid urbanization and industrialization of India over the past 45 years since Prabhupada visited Indore, it has expanded exponentially, and has a population of close to two and a half million (twenty five lakhs – although it is speculated to be even more) today!
It is listed as a “tier two” city and is a large business center and industrial powerhouse. According to wikipedia it is It is the 14th largest city in India and 147th largest city in the world.
ISKCON has a three acre plot of land on the Eastern side of Indore, and plans for construction of a grand temple on that plot, near the Nipania village, have recently been approved by the local municipal authorities. Construction work on a grand Radha Govinda temple will begin later this year.
Senior ISKCON devotees who attended the Rathayatra at Indore were Gopal Krishna Goswami, the GBC for much of North and Western India, Mahaman Das, main organizer of the festival, and ISKCON India non-GBC zonal secretary for Madhya Pradesh, and a number of other areas in North India, Basu Ghosh Das, Temple President of ISKCON Baroda, Murali Krishna Swami, now Regional Secretary for Bhubaneshwar, Patri Das, non-GBC Zonal Secretary for Nepal, Bimal Krishna Das, Ganga Narayan Das, and Radha Vinod Das, all Co-President of ISKCON Ujjain, and Guru Das and Arvindaksa Govinda Das, Co-Presidents of ISKCON Bhopal (Capitol of Madhya Pradesh).
Murli Krishna Swami brought a group of Russian and Chinese followers to the festival, and they were about 70 in number. There presence was thus quite apparent to both the local congregational devotees and life patrons, as well as to the public who were fortunate enough to see the Rathayatra.
Local devotees who helped organize the festival were Vishal Das, Rakshak Gouranga Das, Chakravarty Das, Suvarnamalini Devi Dasi, and Congregational devotees such as Bhakta Vinay Tiwari, Bhakta P.D Agrawal and Bhakta Anil Bhandari.
Mahaman Prabhu’s devoted wife of more than 35 years, Paramahamsa Devi Dasi looked after the visiting devotees needs.
Acharya Samskritananda Hari from the Kaushalya Pitham, Baroda, participated and chanted vedic mantras to inaugurate the Rathayatra. Most of the ISKCON leaders mentioned addressed the public gathered from on top of the Rath after the recitation of the vedic mantras as a part of the inaugural observances. Arati was performed by the senior devotees with coconuts with lighted karpoor (camphor) diyas.
Praneshwar Das, a disciple of Radhanath Swami, who was one of the leading brahmacharis at ISKCON Juhu, Bombay, has been engaged in youth preaching at Indore for the past three years now. He organized a devotee band that rode on a specially outfitted 45 foot trailer truck, and performed kirtan throughout the procession. Radharasbihari Das, and other devotees performed on that flatbed trailer.
The Rathayatra began at about 2 PM in the afternoon on a cool day at the Agrasen Cross Road, and proceeded to Tower Cross Road, passing the Dictrict Magistrate’s office, (popularly known as the “Collectorate”), and ended at Annapurna Mandir at about 7 PM.
Thereafter a prasad feast was served to five thousand devotees and festival participants inside the Annapurna temple. The feast consisted of Puris, subji, kadi with pakoras, rice, and bundi (sweet nano balls of chickpea flour/besan, deep fried in ghee and the submersed in sugar water).
Because of local by-elections and “achar samhita” (rules that stipulate that those running in elections may not participate in public functions during campaigning) no local VIPs were able to participate, although the local MLA Dr. Rajesh Sonkar came privately later, and welcomed all the visiting devotees.