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Rath Yatra: Chariot of Faith Winds Through Atlanta Streets

July 2004
Rath Yatra: Chariot of Faith Winds Through Atlanta Streets

The Hare Krishna Rath Yatra took place on June 5 with a parade of the deities starting at the Hare Krishna temple off Ponce de Leon Road and wound through the streets of Atlanta into the Little Five Points area. The rath yatra is celebrated all over India and by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temples all over the world by parading a chariot carrying the deities of Lord Krishna and his siblings in the forms of their appearance in Mathura, India 4,000 years ago.

On Saturday, here in Atlanta, the deities of Lord Jaganath (Krishna), Lord Balram (Krishna's elder brother), and Lady Subhadra (Krishna's sister) were hoisted on a chariot adorned with flowers and decorations and the chariot was hand pulled by 500 ISCKON devotees. The devotees came from various backgrounds including India, Africa, South America, Europe, and Native America. The procession was preceded by a band of devotees playing the mridang (drums), cymbals, and conch shells, as is customary in Hindu religious processions in India. The devotees, dressed in dhotis and saris, were also dancing and chanting the Hare Krishna maha mantra during the procession as onlookers watched in fascination at the colorful display. To aid this grand effort, the city of Atlanta police had cordoned off several streets in the Little Five Points/Virginia Highlands/Moreland Ave. area from 1.00 ? 3.00 p.m., which resulted in an organized and orderly procession enjoyed by all.

At the end of the procession, 1000 complimentary plates of delicious prasadam (feast) were served to the devotees and onlookers. The local ISKCON temple president, Balabhadra Dasa (Bennie Tillman), arranged the Atlanta Rath Yatra and officiated the event.

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