His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, invites Radha and Krishna to preside in Los Angeles.
This July 16 – 18 promises to see one of the biggest festivals in the history of ISKCON Los Angeles, as the “New Dwaraka” community celebrates its fortieth anniversary of worshiping Sri-Sri Rukmini-Dwarakanatha.
Each of the three festival days, devotees and guests will swing these smaller, moveable counterparts to ISKCON LA’s larger Rukmini-Dwarakadish deities in a traditional ceremony called Julana-yatra. Also on each day, senior disciples of ISKCON’s founder Srila Prabhupada will recall their experiences of the original installation in 1969.
On the final day of the event, Rukmini-Dwarakanatha will be gifted a brand new outfit made entirely from peacock feathers, and taken on a procession around the temple. Traditional flower offering, fire sacrifice, and bathing ceremonies will then be held, followed by exhuberant chanting and dancing. Rounding off the whole event will be a multi-course prasadam feast.
Rukmini-Dwarkanatha’s installation is an event rich with ISKCON history. As temple president Svavasa Dasa explains: “After establishing his society in New York between 1966 and 1968, Srila Prabhupada traveled to Canada, San Franciso, Seattle and finally here to Los Angeles. It was then, in 1969, that he personally installed Rukmini-Dwarakanatha at the old temple on La Cienaga Ave. So Rukmini-Dwarakanatha were the first deities installed as ISKCON expanded from New York to the rest of the world.”
Srila Prabhupada had always aimed to deepen his young disciples’ spiritual practices by introducing Radha-Krishna worship. And now he began to teach them the elaborate process by lovingly worshiping the small forms of Rukmini-Dwarakanatha himself.
One year later, during the Janmastami festival, the larger Rukmini-Dwarkadisha deities were installed at the new temple on Watseka Ave, and the New Dwaraka community was born.
Yet Prabhupada’s specific instructions for the worship of Rukmini-Dwarkanatha continue to be followed to this day. Six times daily, food is offered and the arati ceremony is observed. The deities are clothed in gorgeous silken dresses, jewelry and flower garlands, and every year the principle festivals of Vaishnavism—Janmastami, Gaura-Purnima, Jagannatha Rath-yatra, Rama Navami and Govardhana-puja—are celebrated with great splendor and enthusiasm.
The Forthieth Anniversary celebration of Rukmini-Dwarakanatha’s installation will be held at 3764 Watseka Ave. in Venice, West Los Angeles. The swing ceremony begins at 7:30 a.m. on July16th through18th. Saturday July 18 celebrations are from 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm. A full color Commemorative Souvenir Booklet will be available. For more information, please call 310-839-1572, visit www. harekrishnala.com, or write to pavakadd@HareKrishnaLA.com.