for ISKCON News on March 14, 2013
"This year, a special chariot in the shape of a swan was prepared for Their Lordships, Sri Sri Jagannathji, Baldevji and Subhadra Devi."
For the fifteenth year in succession, ISKCON Belgaum organized the Lord Jagannatha Ratha Yatra Mahotsava on February 16th, 2013. Bhanu Swami inaugurated the Ratha Yatra procession. Sukhdev Swami, Bhakti Rasamrita Swami, Vaishnava Das, Shankdhari Das were present. Bhakti Rasamrita Swami, President ISKCON, Belgaum welcomed all the sannyasis and senior devotees by offering them flower garlands.
Fifty thousand people, including devotees from all over India as well as spiritually minded residents of Belgaum were in attendance, pulling the chariot of the Lord with great love and enthusiasm. This year, a special chariot in the shape of a swan was prepared for Their Lordships, Sri Sri Jagannathji, Baldevji and Subhadra Devi.
Devotees in several kirtan parties led by Sukhdev Swami, Bhakti Rasamrita Swami, Vaishnava Das and other devotees, were ecstatically dancing and chanting.
The ratha yatra procession was led by a long chain of beautifully decorated bullock carts as well as beautiful dioramas depicting various pastimes of Lord Krishna.
Groups of colourfully dressed children enacting various pastimes of the Lord were also part of the procession. There was also a team of folk dancers and musicians who enthralled the crowd with their beautiful rendition of folk dance and music in praise of the Supreme Lord.
Many devotees were moving on the streets distributing various devotional literature including the Bhagavad-gita and other books by Srila Prabhupada.
Residents showered flower petals upon the procession as it passed alongside their houses and many others served water and refreshments to the devotees.
Another special feature was that the whole route of the procession was decorated with artistic rangoli designs made by the devotees. The entire route was also decorated with flags of different colours to welcome Lord Jagannath.
More than 50,000 packets of prasadam were distributed along the Rath Yatra route.
The day after the Ratha Yatra, there was a wonderful pandal program in the grounds behind the Sri Sri Radha Gokulananda Temple in Belgaum where devotees had set up various beautifully decorated stalls including a special fun and games village for children, a Go-seva stall, slide shows and Hare Krsna meditation park. In the evening there were various programs including arati of Lord Jagannath, children’s program, drama, and also discourses by senior sanyasis and devotees, followed by kirtan and prasadam for all.