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GOD Atlanta’s second annual joyous Rath Yatra

July 2018
GOD Atlanta’s second annual joyous Rath Yatra


(Photo: Sri Photos)

The annual Rath Yatra of GOD Atlanta took place on May 26, 2018. GOD Atlanta is the Atlanta chapter of Global Organization for Divinity, founded by disciples of His Holiness Maharanyam Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji in the USA. Sri Swamiji hails from Chennai, India, and propagates the practical aspects of Indian spirituality.

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GOD Atlanta made a humble start with Mahamantra chanting in Sri Hanuman Mandir, Alpharetta, in 2011 and continues to do so every Tuesday evening. GOD Atlanta now has its home, Namadwaar, in Cumming where regular weekly satsangs are conducted, and it also conducts many cultural and learning activities across the city. Gopakuteeram enrichment classes for kids are held in 8 centers across the city offering classes to over 90 kids. Classes for adults include Bhagavatham, madhuragitam (beautiful compositions by Sri Sri Guruji of his divine visions), and bhajans that are offered to interested adults at Namadwaar and also through teleconferencing at different time slots to suit busy schedules.

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These classes come to fruition in the most popular of the chapter’s activities, the annual rath yatra, conducted during Memorial Day weekend. This celebration of the Lord is a feast to the eyes, heart, and soul. The festival is filled with dance, music, joy, and color.

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The rath yatra signifies the return of Lord Jagannath to Vrindavana, accompanied by his brother Lord Balaram and sister Devi Subhadra. The temple town of Puri, in the Indian state of Orissa, is the origin of this centuries-old cart festival. Millions throng from all over the world to Puri to be a part of this magical event—and the Atlanta event felt like a “mini Puri.” Devotees from across the country come to Atlanta to be a part of this blissful celebration.

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As the Lord and his family arrived, Gomatha welcomed them to the rath yatra site. The gopas and gopis decked in all their finery chanted Mahamantra and welcomed the Lord with a red carpet, showering him beautiful fragrant flowers of all colors and a lot of cheer.

The beautifully decked towering rath seemed beaming with pride as it carried the Lord and his siblings. A shining neela chakra topped the rath, which was pulled by hundreds of joyous gopas and gopis of all ages. The blissful devotees sang and danced welcoming the Lord into their hearts.

The joy of the devotees and the energy was so high that the God of Rain decided to cancel his planned activities for the day and joined the celebration. With the weather on their side and spirits so high, there was no stopping the devotees from celebrating. The event was telecast live and was watched worldwide.

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After the rath yatra, the Lord and his family were very lovingly seated on a beautiful Vrindavan-themed stage in the shade of a tree. There were many cultural programs. Kids from different Gopakuteerams throughout the city performed in front of the Lord for his pleasure.

As they say, no celebration is complete without food, so there was a king-sized feast. The Lord was treated with chappan bhog (56 food items) including Indian street food, Italian pastas, noodles, varieties of rice from all over India, rotis, desserts, and thirst quenchers. The satvik food was prepared by volunteers, and the prasad was then served to over 200 devotees who attended the event.

The perfect day ended with the Mahamantra, “Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare—Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare.”

Atlanta Namadwaar Rath Yatra 2018

For more information on GOD Atlanta and upcoming events, kids summer camps, and classes, please write to AtlantaNamadwaar@gmail.com. You can follow GOD Atlanta Satsang - Atlanta Namadwaar on Facebook to watch live feeds of different events throughout the year.

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[The article above is a Website Bonus Feature, appearing only on the website for July 2018, not in the print/digital issues.]



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