Lord Jagannath showered his mercy on His chariot accompanied by his brother Baladev and sister Subhadra along with his devotees dancing, on the streets of Dar es Salaam on 28th July and Mombasa on 3rd August.
On the bright sunny morning of 28th July, Lord Jagannath paved his way from the home of a devotee couple in Dar es Salaam. The Festivities were endorsed by not only devotees but also by the head of the Local Hindu Council.
There has been preaching efforts and home programs in houses of non devotees and devotees in Dar es Salaam, initiated and lead by the same devotee couple. So compared to last few years, this year apart from devotees from Nairobi and the neighbouring cities, the natives also actively took part in the chariot festival.
Devotees travelled for over 24 hours in buses to reach the event in time. Just a group of six local devotees arranged, managed and executed the whole festival successfully.
Lord Jagannath bedazzled like an effulgent precious jewel surrounded by rainbow coloured ambrosial flowers. The devotees were electrified, chanting and dancing and interacting with the natives.
The Nairobi Vaishnavi Sangha lead by Dwarka Vasini Devi Dasi, along with the children’s Book Distribution team distributed as many as over 100 books in a span of 90 minutes. The locals had crowded around the whole entourage and were trying to get a mere sight of the magnificent Chariot.
The festivities had begun with just 200 devotees and by the time the procession ended there were over 600 people.
At next dawn, devotees travelled to Mombasa in a bus for over 18 hours. At arrival devotees were warmly and cordially welcomed by the devotees and the relentless rains of Mombasa. Devotees poured in from Kisumu, Nairobi and other neighbouring cities, until the day before Mombasa Rath Yatra. Kundal Krishna Das gave a beautiful Seminar on the union of Lord Dwarkadish and Mother Rukmini which was like the cherry on the cake. It was the spiritual injection the devotees aptly required before the Mombasa Rath Yatra, since Dar es Salaam Rath Yatra had drenched the devotees out.
The day before Rath Yatra it rained like cats and dogs, which made everyone nervous and anxious about the next day. Surprisingly after a short span of shower, the sky cleared out and the sun shined brightly upon everyone on 3rd August. Devotees were decorating the Lord’s chariot till the morning which was followed by an early lunch. The Chariot Festival was inaugurated by the Local Assistant High Commissioner, Head of Hindu Council, ISKCON’s East African General Secretary Umapati Das and numerous devotees.
After recitation of sacred hymns and prayers by Sri Gauranga Das, with loud roars of “Jai Jagannath”, and with splendour, zeal and ecstasy Lord Jagannath, Baladev and Subhadra proceeded in Their chariot elegantly with euphoric devotees. The Lord’s chariot was not only accompanied by devotees, but also a group of Gujarati natives who were singing and dancing the Glories of the Lord in their language. When the whole procession came out on the road it appeared like an exquisite collection of rare colourful flowers in a divine bouquet. The natives soon joined in our procession. For four to five hours the procession glided gallantly around the City centre of Mombasa, starting from ISKCON Ganjoni Centre to Patel Samaj Hall.
The devotees could spent time together during the span of nine to 10 days. Being a sea port, Mombasa has splendid sea beaches and various water sport facilities, and the devotees completely indulged in all such activities. The fun however was reduced by the overcast weather. But all is well that ends well. The devotees enjoyed themselves thoroughly and were spiritually rejuvenated by the end of both the Chariot Festivals. The devotees were left asking for more at the end of the Mombasa Rath Yatra and are now looking forward to the next Rath Yatra.
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