for The Star (Malaysia) on Dec. 20, 2008
ABOUT 4,000 devotees took part in the annual Ratha Yatra (Chariot Festival) organised by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) Penang, Malaysia recently.
The procession, which included two main chariots bearing the deities of Lord Jaganath (Lord of the Universe), Goddess Subadhra Devi and Lord Balarama, and a smaller chariot of Nitai Gauranga, left the Wisma Nattukottai in New Lane at 5.15pm.
The procession ended at the Penang Chinese Town Hall in Jalan Mesjid Kapitan Keling about 8.30pm.
Organising chairman Ramananda Dasa said the festival originates from India’s Orissa state where the celebrations are held over five days.
“ISKCON founder Srila Prabhupada introduced this festival all over the world and here in Penang, we have been hosting this festival for the past 22 years," he said.
Ramanda added that His Holiness Bhanu Swami from Japan, His Holiness Janananda Dasa Goswami from New Zealand and His Holiness Bakti Vrjanandana Maharaja from Malaysia also took part in the procession.
There were also a kollatam (stick dancing) performance, a lion dance and Indian cultural dances at the procession. A fireworks display finished off the evening.