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A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Historic Ratha Yatra in the Heart of Santiago, Chile
By Cintamani Madhavi Devi Dasi   |  Nov 21, 2016

On Saturday, November 12, the Chariot Festival Ratha Yatra was held in Chile, with thousands of people pulling Lord Jagannath’s car through the main avenue of the capital, followed by a cultural show in front of the Government Palace La Moneda. 

In an unprecedented event, Santiago’s main street, Avenida Libertador Bernado O’Higgins, was used exclusively by the majestic chariot that carried the Lord of the Universe and the people who pulled its ropes, filling the streets of Santiago with joy and colors like never before. 

It all started as a dream. When Sri Bhakti Das, in charge of the Department of Culture of ISKCON Chile, visualized Lord Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra in front of La Moneda, he felt that it would be a beautiful offering for Srila Prabhupada on the 50th anniversary of the International Society for Consciousness Krishna. 

In December of 2015, Sri Bhakti met with the manager of the last Ratha Yatra in Chile, Arjuna Das, who shared his experiences on the organization of the previous festivals. In addition, Pundavanika Devi Dasi and Premi Krishna Das  joined the production team. Because this year the chosen place was so historic, a large number of permits and government authorizations would be necessary. 

After almost a year of work, the festival was confirmed and the preparations began in the different areas. “All the devotees of the yatra made service to make it possible, from the team to build the car (led by Viryavan Das and Bhakta Matías Vallejos), the coordination of the stands, communication, prasadam, cleaning, and so many other services. It was amazing to see the teamwork of the community”, said the organization team.

The event was covered by the mainstream medias in Chile, on television, radio and newspapers. This contributed the vast attendance to the Ratha Yatra, especially by people who had never had contact with Krishna-consciousness before.

On the day of the event, the tour began at a strategic point in downtown Santiago, the Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center (GAM). With a sunny day and a clear main avenue, Lord Jagannath’s chariot was accompanied with joyous songs and dances. The devotees of ISKCON Chile had prepared for the procession choreography for weeks, which was applauded by the festival participants for their coordination and beauty.

Three disciples of Srila Prabhupada attended the festival: Maha Visnu Swami, Visuddha-sattva Das and Dharmatma Das. Harinam Ruci was also here, and encouraged everyone to dance and sing the Maha Mantra.

The procession concluded at Plaza Bulnes, a historical place of Santiago in front of the Palace of La Moneda. There, many booths were displayed, such as Food For Life, books, questions and answers, yoga, activities for children and prasadam. In addition, a first class artistic show was performed with dance presentations by Danza Odissi Chile and the participation of outstanding chilean musicians such as Millapol Gajardo and the musical groups Om Bhakti and Krishna Sambandha.

The festivities, which lasted until 9 o’clock at night, hosted hundreds of people who got the chance to get introduced to the culture of Bhakti, to read and buy books of Srila Prabhupada and taste delicious prasadam. 

“I was very happy to see how the whole community was united by this Ratha Yatra, working together to position the legacy of Srila Prabhupada in the most important place of our country. I hope Krishna will give us His blessings to continue this beautiful teamwork forever”, said Sri Bhakti Das.

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