(Photos by Filip Cargonja/Gaura Govinda Das.)
On the 6th of August, the capital of Croatia – Zagreb – welcomed Lord Jagannatha with the Ratha-yatra festival for the first time.
A big, colorful procession of around 350 people with the wonderful Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra deities joyfully resting on a chariot beautifully decorated with flowers and cookies began its way at the Europski square, proceeding through the main square and finally reaching Zagreb’s biggest city park, Zrinjevac, where kirtan and book and prasadam distribution went on. From the chariot the deities were transported into the beautiful renaissance gazebo pavilion of Zrinjevac, from where They could easily be seen by everyone.
The festival was enriched by the presence of six of Srila Prahupada's disciples: Prahladananda Swami, Bhakti Vikasa Swami, Smita Krishna Swami, Kratu Das, Amrita Keli Dasi and Manidhara Das. Prahladananda Swami and Bhakti Vikasa Swami gave short and very inspiring speeches to the Zagreb audience. Also many devotees and kirtan players from Czech Republic came and led ecstatic kirtans.
This historic Ratha-yatra was held with the kind help of the Indian Embassy and the City of Zagreb. Mr. Sandeep Kumar, the Indian ambassador in Croatia, gave a very nice speech in which he expressed his gratitude and happiness about this festivity, and all the speakers expressed a desire that this tradition would become an annual event.
The Zagreb audience had a chance to see the traditional Orissa dance performed by Anuradha Dasi. Devotees distributed more than 150 Srila Prabhupada's books, 2,000 sweet balls, 300 prasadam boxes, and 500 Jagannatha sweets. Both locals and tourists reacted in a very positive way, seeming open and welcoming.
In Rijeka – another big city in Croatia – the Ratha–yatra festival is regularly being held for 14 years already, and now Zagreb, too, got this unique and precious opportunity. This was ISKCON Zagreb’s offering to Srila Prabhupada for the 50 golden years of his International Society for Krishna Conciusness.[ croatia ] [ jagannatha ] [ ratha-yatra ]