The News Agency of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness

First Ratha-Yatra Festival in Iraq

By: on Nov. 27, 2007
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Photo Credits: Parthasarathi Dasa
Jagannatha diety that rode in the Iraq Ratha Yatra festival
Parthasarathi Dasa is a U.S. soldier in Iraq. He preaches, he distributes Srila Prabhupada's books as well as prasadam, and recently he has organized the first Iraqi Ratha-yatra.

This year he arranged Diwali and Govardhana puja, attracting 150 people. Parthasarathi had initially been given permission by commanding officers for a Ratha-yatra in January. "The Ratha-yatra was all set to go, but Krishna had another plan," Parthasarati said. The logistics of war meant the Ratha-yatra would have to wait as Parthasarathi was moved to another part of Iraq.

"On the day of Srila Prabhupada's disappearance we are happy to announce the successful completion of the first Iraq Ratha," Parthasarathi said. There were some unexpected issues raised by the military authorities, "but then everything was set to go," he said.

"From first light people were waiting for the Lord's darshan," Parthasarati said. "It was around noon when the Lord made His appearance, much to the pleasure of all assembled," he said. Around 75 people gathered for the festival to chant and dance. "The turnout was not as big as we had hoped, but considering the circumstances, I believe it was a success," Parthasarathi said.

Prasadam was also prepared and distributed. "It was a simple feast of dhal and rice and HG Ratna Bhusana Prabhu's cookies," Parthasarathi said. "The procession was not a very long one and everything was very simple." Due to short notice it was not possible to build a cart. "We had to change the plans so a simple palanquin was developed and we carried it," he said.

"For a moment Iraq was transformed into Vaikunta," Parthasarathi said. "Many came away from this Ratha-yatra with a deeper understanding of spiritual life. I feel the effort of those involved and all those that attended were the true offerings.

"I gave a small talk on the merciful nature of God, about the process of bhakti yoga and how we simply assist the pure devotee of the Lord in his service. I spoke about developing loving relationships with one another and using those relationships to strengthen and develop our relationship with Krishna."

After organizing an Iraqi Govardhana-puja and now the Ratha-yatra, Parthasarathi said he would have to see what Krishna has planned for him next.

The soldiers respond well to hearing about Krishna. "They are really into the Bhagavad-gita," Parthasarathi said. "They understand the need for spiritual life. Dealing with so much death, they can understand that the ultimate goal of this life is to become a servant of God, to give your heart to him."

When asked if he had a message for the devotees at home, Parthasarathi said, "I would say to everyone, thank you for the support, prayers, kind words and letters. Also that it is lonely and hard here, with no one else to motivate me to go out, just the faith in the process that Srila Prabhupada has given us and faith that Krishna will arrange everything. I also request the devotees to pray that all that are here come in contact with Srila Prabhupada's books."

Parthasarathi Dasa distributes prasadam cookies sent to him by Ratna Bhusana Dasa. If you would like to join the Cookie Prasadam Troops please write to Ratna Bhusana Dasa. All donations no matter how small are welcome. The e-mail address is: isanahratna@yahoo.com





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