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Srila Prabhupada Attends 
Saranagati Rathayatra

By Jaya Govinda dasa
Srila Prabhupada Attends Saranagati Rathayatra
Click here for photos.

June 29, 2002 – As the large luxurious passenger bus left the Vancouver temple parking lot embarking on its four-hour journey to the annual Saranagati Farm Rathayatra in the interior of beautiful British Columbia, Canada, the weather seemed questionable

Srila Prabhupada would leave from the Vancouver temple a little later accompanied by HH Vipramukhya Swami, HG Bhava prabhu, and my humble self, Jaya Govinda das, in a brand-new Lincoln town car, which we had acquired especially for the occasion. 

On the way to the farm, the weather took a turn for the worse when heavy rains began to shower from the heavens. Thoughts of pulling Lord Jagannatha's cart in knee-deep mud raced through my head. Now halfway to the farm, in the small town of Hope, despite the seemingly uncooperative weather, everyone was nonetheless in bliss as we honored prasadam under the shelter of a gazebo in one of the town’s many beautiful parks.

The drive from Vancouver to Saranagati through Fraser Canyon is one of the most scenic drives in all of Canada. With fast-flowing rivers and waterfalls cutting through forests and mountains, it is an excellent display of some of the natural beauty of Lord Krishna’s material nature. By the mercy of Lord Jagannatha these very mountains changed the weather for the better by blocking the rain clouds from entering the locale of the festival, thus setting stage for yet another wonderful farm Rathayatra festival.

When His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami arrived at the beginning of the Rathayatra route, devotees began kirtan, and he was escorted and assisted onto the awaiting ox cart that the local devotees had arranged for him. With Srila Prabhupada seated under a colorful canopy to protect him from the elements above and on a soft yet firm seat made of natural hay beneath him to offer a smooth and comfortable ride, the Saranagati Rathayatra was ready to roll.

As the carts began moving forward, the kirtan's intensity increased proportionately and smiles hugs and good wishes were exchanged abundantly amongst all the devotees.

Lord Jagannatha's annual country-style Rathayatra of Saranagati farm was underway. Lord Jagannatha's chariot floated over hill and over dale, meandering its way along the rustic roads of Saranagati such as Hare Krishna Road and Rathayatra Way in the incredible setting of the beautiful natural British Columbian landscape. 

The Rathayatra parade reached its destination at the festival site, which was located in a clearing beside the largest of Saranagati’s two lakes. At the festival site devotees experienced the taste of an incredible pradasam feast and were entertained with dramas, bhajans, and a kirtan dance contest.

As the late afternoon approached Srila Prabhupada left the main stage, escorted by devotees to his car for the drive back to Vancouver. The Vancouver-bound bus left a short while later.

All in all, it was a wonderful festival and we can't wait to do it again next year.

© CHAKRA 7 July 2002

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