By Aseem Krsna Das
Krsna Balaram Shobha Yatra, Dharamshala
A large group of devotees gathered in Dharamshala, a beautiful and refreshing city located on the slopes of the Dhauladhar mountains. This place boasts of being home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. It is also one of the wettest places in the region. The atmosphere here is cool and pleasant for the most part of the year.
A devotee family in Dharamshala enthusiastically organises festivals and eagerly invites devotees to participate in them. Prominent festivals celebrated here include Sri Krishna Janmashtami, Radhashtami and Lord Jagannatha’s Ratha-yatra festival. This time, the devotees gathered to participate in the Krishna-Balarama Shobha-yatra festival, which was organized on the 1st of October 2021.
The Shobha-yatra festival was celebrated with great enthusiasm and was very successful. The preparation began a week ago with devotees going out on sankirtana in different parts of the city, including Mcleodganj, which is home to the Dalai Lama. The success of the programme could be measured by looking at the number of Srila Prabhupada’s books distributed during the yatra. The devotees were able to distribute 180 Maha (big) books on the yatra day alone, such as Bhagavad-gita and Krishna Book, along with many other small books. Distribution of Srila Prabhupada’s books ensures the success of any programme.
Srila Prabhupada has said, “This book distribution and Ratha-yatra festivals should go on all over the world. I want to introduce this Ratha-yatra festival programme all over the world.” (Letter to Madhudvisa, U.K. 7 August, 1973)
The yatra started at 11:30 am from the Kotwali Bazar area with the loud chanting of the names of the Lord. The local people were very joyful to see the devotees from all over the world engaged in chanting the names of the Lord. Prasadam was also distributed all along the way. There was rain during the second half of the yatra and it only added a special flavour to the procession. It’s only in Dharamshala where I have seen the devotees often find a chance to enjoy sankirtana in the rain with the Lord. Indeed, as the pitch of the sankirtana rose towards the end, the rain also got heavier. Dharamshala usually gets wet by frequent rains, but this time Dharamshala got drenched in the most purifying rain of the holy names of the Lord. All the dirt in the heart got washed away and everyone seemed to be so joyful.
The book distributors also took advantage of the queue of cars that formed behind our sankirtana yatra. They kept distributing books in the rain and many transcendental books were distributed. All the people received the prasadam and books with joy.
Everyone felt satisfied and happy, and the program ended with a delicious feast.
All the Dharmashala devotees would especially like to thank His Holiness Subhag Swami Maharaja for his transcendental association during the festival. Maharaja most mercifully delivered enlivening Bhagavatam discourses and guided us all in our spiritual lives. His enthusiasm was unabated. He incessantly distributed prasadam to one and all during the yatra. Maharaja also lovingly took us to various nearby historical places related to the period of the Mahabharata, and the devotees can never forget those transcendental picnic with him.
There is nothing better than chanting and dancing with the names of the Lord in association with the Lord’s beloved devotees. Vrindavana manifests wherever there is the gathering of the Lord’s devotees. These devotees are always busy in glorifying the name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord. And the local residents also were greatly inspired by being in such wonderful association. The devotees in Dharamshala are hopeful of pleasing Srila Prabhupada and getting His Divine Grace’s mercy in their spiritual lives.
All glories to Srila Prabhupada.