Sunday April 18, ISKCON devotees will join San Diego’s Earth Day parade, one of the biggest in the U.S., for their 14th year in a row.
Over two hundred devotees from San Diego as well as neighbouring Los Angeles and Laguna Beach are expected to pull a small yet beautifully decorated Ratha Yatra cart from one end of Balboa Park to the other, in a procession that will begin at 10:15am.
ISKCON San Diego temple president Mahat-tattva Dasa and his crew will then set up four booths at Earth Fair in Balboa Park.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, EarthFair is the largest free annual environmental fair in the world, drawing around 70,000 visitors and produced by 400 volunteers. It features more than 350 exhibitors, including special theme areas, a Food Pavilion, a Kids’ Activity Area, three entertainment venues, the Children’s Earth Parade, the Earth Gallery art show, and the Cleaner Car Concourse.
Yet amongst all this, Krishna consciousness will receive pride of place. “Our kirtan and book booths are in the best location, right at the entrance of the park,” says Mahat-tattva. “They’re the first things people experience when they enter every year.”
He adds, “It’s especially fulfilling to see people ignore the Museum of Man—dedicated to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution—that stands right beside us, and instead buying Srila Prabhupada’s books and chanting the Maha-mantra!”
Devotees will also set up a gift shop, with spiritual music, clothing, instruments and accessories, as well as the extremely popular prasadam booth.
In previous years, a constant, unbroken stream of people have filled three lines from 10am to 5pm to purchase their fill of subji, rice, dahl, pizza, enchiladas, and lasagna, with proceeds going to the San Diego ISKCON temple. Mahat-tattva expects this year to be no different.
“I think the prasadam must be a favorite of the EarthFair organizers, because they really love the devotees!” Mahat-tattva jokes. “This year I called them up to register for the parade, and they immediately said, ‘Oh, we know you’re coming, we’ve already saved a spot for you.’”
Of course, devotees also have something serious to say at EarthFair.
“Most people who are not spiritually educated have a tendency to think of themselves as material products, rather than a spirit soul that lives within a physical body,” Mahat-tattva explains. “This leads to thinking that the acquisition of matter, or material comfort, is the most important thing in life. And unfortunately, this thought pattern is also reflected when ecological issues are brought up. People are becoming conscious of the environment these days because they have realized that by trashing the environment we are hurting ourselves. But this is a somewhat skewed vision, implying that the environment in itself isn’t intrinsically sacred. So all the other presentations at EarthFair talking about how our impacting the environment is harming us are good, but incomplete. So I think devotees have a very valuable message to communicate.”
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