The ancient Ratha Yātrā festival where the Divine meets devotee, color meets colossal, classic meets class, splendid meets spectacle and East meets West, was celebrated with great pomp and show at the Hougang Stadium here in Singapore on the 25th of June, 2017.
A colorful festival ends in colossal success. Ratha Yātrā, the most splendid of the innumerable festivals, is the grand pinnacle of a series of celebrations on the ISKM Singapore calendar. A stupendous crowd of about 18,000 people were overwhelmed with the magnificence and magnitude of this amazing celebration.
Devotees had been working for about 5 to 6 months putting together everything for the festival and we are confident that the results are pleasing to Śrīla Prabhupāda and Lord Kṛṣṇa.
The festival began at 5pm with the journey of the Lord of Universe — Jagannātha — along with His divine siblings Balabhadra and Subhadrā from the temple to the stadium and subsequently to Their respective ornate chariots in a royal procession technically called pahaṇḍi (step-by-step forward movement.) An ecstatic kīrtana led by Prahlāda Bhakta Prabhu, President of ISKM Puducherry, India, accompanied the grand procession. A short Odissi welcome dance by a volunteer dancer was performed for the pleasure of Their Lordships.
The whole atmosphere was spiritually tumultuous. Everybody in the crowd were jostling to have a glimpse of their dusky darling, the devastatingly handsome Lord Jagannātha.
After Their Lordships ascended their respective chariots, a grand ārati was performed simultaneously atop the chariots. It was a magnificent sight. Then the chief guests, along with His Grace Sundar Gopāl Prabhu, broke the coconuts so as to invoke auspiciousness for the Lord’s parade. Then Mr. Lee Hong Chuang, BBM, Advisor to the Hougang Grassroots Organisations, the Chief Guest, swept the floor in front of the chariots with a regal broom and the spectacular parade of the three chariots began. Thousands of devotees who patiently waited the whole day for this blessed moment were ecstatic with joy and pulled the chariots with a sense of fulfillment and loudly chanting, “Hare Kṛṣṇa! Haribol! Jaya Jagannātha! Jaya Baladeva! Jaya Subhadrā!”
We also had a spiritual bazaar where we managed to sell hundreds of books of Śrīla Prabhupāda, souvenirs, prasādam, etc. The Vedic Exhibition stall was very informative as it explains the entire creation, our situation inside it, and the way out of this miserable material world — in a visually appealing format.
The attendees were very happy with all the arrangements of the festival as they waxed eloquent in praise of the organizing committee and the volunteers for their impressive and impeccable execution in conducting the the festival. Everyone pulled out their phones and were snapping away to glory so as to capture memories of the festivities.
This was the first time we completely ran out of prasādam supplies. All the utensils were wiped clean of all prasādam. In fact, the prasādam as not enough to cater to everyone.
Last but not the least, we would like to extend our utmost thanks to everyone who contributed, making this event successful and special thanks to everyone who came to attend the unparalleled event on the unforgettable night.
May Lord Jagannātha shower His unbounded blessings to one and all!