Every year on the 4th Saturday in September, their Lordships Sri Sri Jagannath, Baladeva and Subhadra Devi grace the streets of Philadelphia (PA, USA) in a Parade of Chariots beginning from Love Park and ending at Eakin’s Oval, in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art where the Festival of India is then held. This year the festival was held on September 23th.
Thousands of Philadelphia residents come out to be a part of this event. The Philadelphia Ratha Yatra has become such a success that it even brings in crowds of regular attendees from other states. One of the out-of-state devotees who was there was Sudarshan Chakra Das from Queens in New York City, who travels by chartered bus with others from his local temple in Queens to attend the Philadelphia Ratha Yatra every year faithfully. In his own words about this year’s Ratha Yatra, Sudarshan Chakra Das mentioned “I had a wonderful time. The Ratha Yatra parade was the biggest and the best this year. It was pure nectar and wonderful association.”
Devotees help pull one of the carts for the parade of chariots.
At the festival people enjoyed a spectacular vegan and vegetarian feast. The Festival of India features yoga and meditation, dance and drama, cultural exhibits, craft markets, activities for children, kirtan and live music. All of which makes for a full day of enjoyment.
When the temple president of the Philadelphia ISKCON temple, Balabhadra Bhattacarya Dasa, was asked about his reflections on the Philadelphia Ratha Yatra he stated “I first attended the Philadelphia Ratha Yatra in 1975, in the year that Srila Prabhupada attended and I was fortunate to be playing mridanga when Srila Prabhupada first arrived at the cart. Now, so many years later I am blessed by the devotees of the Philadelphia temple to be able to participate in this wonderful festival in the same where the festival was held in 1975. This year was especially grand because of all the efforts of so many sincere devotees and by the presence of His Holiness Indradyumna Maharaj and his wonderful group of devotees who performed for several hours on the main stage.”
Aug 06, 2022
Brahmatirtha das Director, Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies