ISKCON Los Angeles celebrated a three day “Spiritual Strength and Rejuvenation Festival” this year, which included the forty-first annual Ratha-yatra festival and concluded with celebration of the Appearance Day of Sri Balarama.
Every evening brought the chance to sing in an enchanting kirtan offered to Their Lordships Sri-Sri Rukmini-Dwarakadisha led by Agnideva and Gauravani. Guests participated in the Julan-yatra, swing ceremony, of Their Lordships Sri-Sri Rukmini-Dwarakanatha, and were escorted on guided tours of Srila Prabhupada’s Garden and Quarters.
An estimated one thousand devotees were in attendance, which includes four hundred registered guests of the festival. They attended seminars on the topic of spiritual strength and book distribution by Vaisesika Das, and “Spacecraft as Described in Srimad-Bhagavatam” by Drutakarma Das. There was also a two-day seminar by Garuda Das and Dravida Das which focused us on a greater understanding of the topic of the editing of Srila Prabhupada’s published books.
A special feature of this year’s chariot parade was a uniformed twelve piece marching band led by a devotee Major, Govinda Datta Das. They played a classic Hare Krishna mantra melody to kick off the parade for hundreds of spectators. An eye catching mock elephant on wheels made a trumpeting sound at intervals.
Various news media trucks and vans follow the parade and this year KTLA/CBS TV took a televised interview with Svavasa Das, temple president, at the finish of the procession. They asked him to describe the meaning and purpose of the Ratha-yatra parade for an broadcast throughout the western U.S. on the evening news.
The festival site, replete with twenty colorful tents, featured a generous sampling of goods from Govinda’s Gift Store, a changing bodies exhibit, vegetarian exhibit, a large children’s activities tent, and two stages with drama, dance and a variety of musical performances, and a question and answer forum. Tens of thousands of curious people crowd the area to participate. One new exhibit displayed a huge and authentic colorfully painted wooden chariot wheel, handmade in the ancient tradition, which was shipped to Los Angeles temple as a gift from the grand Jagannatha temple of Puri. This exhibit, along with many features of the L.A. festival, was arranged for and designed by Ratna Busana dasa.
As organized by Mahanta Das, festival devotee cooks produced approximately fourteen thousand plates of chidwa, pasta salad, burfi and tea. Despite their affiliation, loud Christian protestors of the parade line up for the tempting prasada.[ dwaraka ] [ los-angeles ] [ ratha-yatra ]