on Dec. 13, 2007
The first Ratha Yatra in the Czech Republic was held in Brno on September 27 this year. Brno in southeast Czech is the second-largest city in the country and has over 380,000 inhabitants. With perfect weather throughout day the parade lasted three hours. Krishna-kripa Dasa was there.
"I chanted, danced, and distributed flyers", Krishna-kripa Dasa said, "I was so happy to see the large percentage of people who took the invitations."
The devotees in Brno began holding regular weekly programs within the last year. After Prague devotees abandoned their plans to hold a Ratha Yatra, the Brno devotees decided it was time to hold one themselves.
"The cooperative mood among the devotees, who numbered maybe fifty or so, impressed me very much," Krishna-kripa said. "Some sang, danced, pulled the cart, carried the sound system, and many distributed flyers, prasadam, and Srila Prabhupada’s books. On a few occasions, where we had a large crowd, the devotees addressed the crowd, explaining about the festival and inviting them to the program in the park."
"There were lots of young people in the crowd," Krishna-kripa said. "Lots of onlookers took invitations for both the stage show after the parade and the devotees’ weekly gatherings. "Many people in the crowds took photographs of the parade."
Almost the entire route of the Brno parade took the devotees down streets where only pedestrians were permitted. This meant there was little need for police to direct traffic around the parade. "Only at the beginning and end, when we entered or left the park, could one or two traffic cops come in handy," Krishna-kripa said.
At the end of a three-hour ratha yatra, the festival continued with a stage show in the park. There was Bharat Natyam dancing, bhajanas and a feast afterwards with prasadam distributed to all.
"The whole event was very inspiring for me," said Krishna-kripa. "It shows what cooperation and enthusiasm can do in Srila Prabhupada’s service, even if you are just starting and do not have many devotees. It reminded me of the early history of ISKCON, when devotees regularly started new centers and implemented our standard ISKCON programs like Ratha-yatra."
The city of Brno is surrounded by beautiful forests and prides itself on its many notable historic sites that show evidence of its rich cultural history.
The Hare Krishna movement became the first religious organisation to be registered in the Czech republic. Prior to the fall of the communist regime visiting swamis had carried out preaching activities under the supervision of state security.