By Madhava Smullen

Ratha Yatra is usually a summer staple for ISKCON devotees, a chance to pull Their Lordships Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra on Their chariot through the streets, share Krishna consciousness, see old friends and connect. With the COVID-19 pandemic, of course, none of this is possible in person, and Ratha Yatras all over the world have been cancelled. But devotees are thinking creatively and coming up with virtual alternatives for the chariot festival.

From July 1st to 12th, ISKCON Toronto, Canada held a 12-day series of online events. More recently, on Saturday July 18th, ISKCON of Berlin, London, Radhadesh (Belgium) and Zurich jointly hosted a unique first-time European virtual collaboration festival, “Spirit of Ratha Yatra.”

“Our goal was to give our respective communities the chance to celebrate Ratha Yatra at least within their hearts, guided through katha and kirtan,” says Sadasiva Das, temple president of ISKCON Berlin, who came up with the idea. “We also wanted to showcase a new level of European collaboration by co-hosting this festival with the three other temples.”

The festival was inspired by Srila Prabhupada’s statement, recounted by Bhakti Charu Swami, that “our real love for him would be shown by how we cooperate with each other to continue his mission.”* It was also inspired by how Srila Prabhupada brought Vedic culture to the West and made it accessible to all – in part through Ratha Yatra, which takes the Lord on a procession outside of His temple and to the people. 

Finally, according to Sadasiva Das, the festival was an opportunity to “share the vibrant history of the movement in Europe.”

The virtual festival, broadcast over the Jagannatha Tempel Berlin Facebook page from 11:00am – 5:00pm CEST / 10:00am – 4:00pm BST, received over 8,500 views.

ISKCON-London, Berlin, Radhadesh and Zurich each received a one-and-a-half-hour slot to present kirtan, deity darshan, guided meditation, and historical talks about the early days of their Ratha Yatra. 

Read more: https://iskconnews.org/iskcon-berlin-london-radhadesh-and-zurich-hold-joint-virtual-ratha-yatra-festival,7450/


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