Hundreds of devotees of ISKCON Trinidad and Tobago joined in the Ratha Yatra from Montrose Junction along the main road to the Chaguanas Market Car Park today, July 01. With a police escort the traffic was well managed as the devotees pulled the chariot decorated with colored flowers bearing the idols of Krishna, Balarama, Subhadra, and Srila Prabhupada, the founder of ISKCON on full display.
Two long ropes on either side of the chariot stretching more than one hundred feet were pulled by devotees as others played the cymbals, beat the drums, and chanted the Maha Mantra as they danced on the street.
The Ratha Yatra has its origin in the 12th century in the city of Puri in the State of Odisha in eastern India. It is symbolic of the Lord reaching out to his devotees. In India, the Ratha Yatra festival runs for several weeks.
Ratha Yatra is a major festival in the ISKCON calendar and is held at all its centers in the world. Last month ISKCON Trinidad and Tobago has its Ratha Yatra in Port of Spain.
Arriving at the Market Car Park, vegetarian lunches were served to all followed with a planned program of activities. Among the items was the Member of Parliament for Chaguanas East bringing greeting on this joyous moment. Vandana Mohit said: “I am yet again happy to join this group in their journey to Chaguanas… and we join them every year…’
Shrila Prbhupada, the founder of ISKCON, is a phenomenon and one of the greatest spiritual heads of all times. Born in Bengal in 1896, he became a sanyasin in 1959, dedicating his life to writing commentaries on Vaisnava scriptures. It was in 1966 that he landed in New York at age 70 and started spreading the teachings of ISKCON. Today ISKCON has branches in almost every country of the world and millions of devotees globally.
Despite his passing his legacy is very much revealed in the display of his idol atop the chariot amongst the other deities. His founding of ISKCON in the West at age 70 is an inspiration for many senior citizens who have retired from their respective professions and want to continue to contribute to society and their personal growth and development.
The devotees of ISKCON Trinidad and Tobago, drawn from the various centers, have done a fantastic job to make today’s yatra a grand success. They have demonstrated that Trinidad and Tobago is a culturally and spiritually diverse land. Most importantly, there was no one objecting to their presence on the main street of Chaguanas on the busiest day of the week and most importantly, there was the full support and protection of the police.